U.S. Airstrikes in Iraq and Syria Have Cost $1 Billion

PHOTO: A-18E Super Hornet, prepares to launch from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush to conduct strike missions against Islamic State group targets, in the Arabian Gulf, Sept. 23, 2014.Robert Burck/U.S. Navy/AP Photo
A-18E Super Hornet, prepares to launch from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush to conduct strike missions against Islamic State group targets, in the Arabian Gulf, Sept. 23, 2014.

The cost of U.S. military airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria has topped $1 billion.

"As of Dec. 11, 2014, the total cost of operations related to ISIL since kinetic operations started on August 8, 2014 is $1.02 billion and the average daily cost is $8.1 million," said Commander Bill Urban, a Pentagon spokesman.

The Pentagon’s latest statistics show that as of Friday the U.S and its coalition partners had flown 1,371 airstrikes in both countries – 799 in Iraq and 572 in Syria.

American military aircraft have conducted 82 percent of the total number of airstrikes.

Lt. Gen. James Terry, the commander of the Combined Joint Task Force, Operation Inherent Resolve, told reporters Thursday at a Pentagon briefing that the airstrikes are having a significant effect on Daesh's ability “to command and control, to resupply, and to conduct maneuvering.” Daesh is the Arabic name for the ISIS acronym.

Pentagon officials have said that the airstrikes in Iraq target ISIS positions with the intent of supporting Iraqi and Kurdish military ground operations.

An example of that support took place earlier this week as U.S. aircraft conducted 53 airstrikes over two days to help a major offensive by Kurdish Peshmerga troops to retake territory from ISIS in northwestern Iraq.

But the U.S. has also begun carrying out targeted airstrikes against senior ISIS leaders in Iraq. On Thursday U.S. officials confirmed that three senior ISIS leaders had been killed in recent weeks, including ISIS's top military commander in Iraq.

In Syria, the airstrikes have a strategic goal of degrading ISIS’s ability to sustain itself in both Syria and Iraq. Accordingly, early airstrikes in Syria targeted ISIS’s illicit oil operations and training areas.

But the majority of airstrikes inside Syria have taken place in the northern city of Kobani where U.S. airstrikes have checked a major ISIS effort to take the city.

"As of today, that assault has failed and has resulted in nearly 1,000 ISIL fighters killed, including many leaders," Brett McGurk told a congressional panel last week. McGurk is one of the Obama administration’s envoys helping to build the international coalition against ISIS.