Though many living in the U.S. have a vague conception that the U.S. is intervening to terminate ISIS terrorist forces in Syria today, mainstream media severely downplays the extent to which the U.S. is fighting, and the impacts that these attacks are having on civilians. U.S. military intervention in Syria officially began on August 8, 2014, when President Obama approved air strikes on ISIS members under the 2001 Authorized Use of Military Force law. The same law was cited when President George W. Bush invaded Iraq in 2003. On October 15, 2014 months after the U.S. began bombing Syrian soil, the U.S. Central Command officials officially dubbed U.S. airstrike operations against ISIS Operation Inherent Resolve.
Since the U.S. initiated airstrikes in 2014, sixty-two other countries, including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, The United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait, have joined the U.S. in airstrikes over Syria. On March 22, 2016, as the U.S. public was fixated on every detail of the ISIS terror attacks in Brussels, the Obama Administration quietly deployed 4,000 US Marines in Syria, despite President Obama’s election promises to end the war in Iraq and that there would be no “boots on the ground” to combat the “Islamic State”.
Between August 8, 2014 and November 30, 2015, the U.S. spent 5.36 billion dollars on military intervention in Syria. This includes deploying 3,550 troops to Iraq to aid Iraqi soldiers in regaining control of cities such as Ramadi, as well as airstrikes with drones in Syria. These efforts have resulted in the estimated deaths of 15,000 ISIL militants. However, they have also come at the cost of 17,282 civilians killed in Iraq with 3 million more displaced. In Syria, 200,000 civilians have been killed, and 9 million more displaced.
Despite the devastating loss of innocent lives in Iraq and Syria, the stories of casualties has not been told by mainstream media in the U.S. Debates about whether or not the U.S. should use drones, or accept refugees from Syria have dominated the political stage, particularly in light of the 2016 Presidential Campaign. However the root of both of these issues, the U.S.’ military interference in Syria, is not a part of these conversations. The media in the U.S. has successfully diverted the attention of the U.S. people, to the extent that to many, it is unclear if we are intervening in Iraq and Syria at all.
Lazare, Sarah. “Thirteen Years After Disastrous US Invasion of Iraq, Obama Quietly Deploys More Troops.” Truth-out.org. Last modified March 22, 2016. http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/35318-after-the-us-s-disastrous-iraq-invasion-obama-quietly-deploys-more-troops
Leopold, Jason. “How the US Military’s Fight Against the Islamic State Became ‘Operation Inherent Resolve’.” Vice News. Last modified January 6, 2016. https://news.vice.com/article/how-the-us-militarys-fight-against-the-islamic-state-became-operation-inherent-resolve1
Pike, John. “Operation Inherent Resolve.” GlobalSecurity.org. Last modified February 21, 2016. http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/inherent-resolve.htm
Student Researcher: Sophie Granberry (University of Vermont)
Faculty Evaluators: Rob Williams (University of Vermont)