As U.S. troops prepare to depart from Syria, reports begin to emerge that describe how the military managed to drive back ISIS and reduce it to a small shadow of its power. Aside from the importance of air power and the involvement of Special Operations Forces (SOF) in support of Iraqi, Kurdish, and Syrian rebel forces, Psychological Operations (PSYOP) formed a considerable part of the American strategy.

According to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by The Drive, the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) used 25 audio messages to demoralise ISIS fighters and encourage them to defect or retreat. Local languages and dialects were used.

The U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) didn’t disclose the methods of broadcasting. It could have been transmitted by EC-130J Commando Solo, dropped in the form of leaflets by other aircraft, broadcast by speakers mounted on Humvees, or by other, more covert, methods.

Some of the messages tried to sow division between local and foreign ISIS fighters:

“I don’t know whether to laugh at you or pity you, Brother. You joined Da’esh to fight and be part of something. But look! The foreign fighters get paid more than you; they get better food, better places to live, and the spoils of war. What do you get? Honestly, my friend, you have been cheated! Da’esh would be nothing without you, and look, you are barely treated better than they would treat a nonbeliever, and enemy prisoner. Is this what you signed up for?”

Others tried to spread tactical confusion among the different ISIS units:

“Fall back!  They are everywhere! (Pause w/ static) Why is no one answering me? You need to move back! We cannot hold our position if you do not fall back you will be overrun! (Pause w/ static) If you can hear me fall back, I cannot hear you. You must fall back now or you will be killed! Is there anyone there? (Static that fades out).”

And yet others contained constant crying noises.