For nearly twenty years now, the United States has been embroiled in combat operations spanning multiple nations and against multiple opponents. These terror groups often hide in plain sight, infiltrating the local population and making it extremely difficult to identify and engage targets. As a result, counter-terror operations tend to have little in common with how a large-scale war with a near-peer military force might play out. Of course, that isn’t always the case. Earlier this week, the United States was called in to provide air support to the 2nd Iraqi Special Operations Forces (ISOF) Battalion as they continue to root ISIS (also called Daesh) out of their nation, and Uncle Sam delivered with a show of force that echoes the larger scale conflicts of our past, and potentially, our future.

“We’re denying Daesh the ability to hide on Qanus Island,” U.S. Air Force Major General Eric Hill, the commander of Special Operations Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve (SOJTF-OIR), said in a statement. “We’re setting the conditions for our partner forces to continue bringing stability to the region.”

When Hill says that they’re “denying” ISIS the ability to hide on Qanus Island, a small island in the Tigris River approximately 175 miles northwest of Baghdad, what he means is, the United States absolutely decimated it. More than 80,000 pounds of ordnance deployed from America’s fastest and stealthiest fighters rained down on the small island on Tuesday, turning the terrorist haven into nothing but a nondescript patch of land.

The U.S. led coalition has otherwise remained rather tight lipped about the operation — saying that the air strikes were carried out by F-15E Strike Eagles and F-35A Joint Strike Fighters but offering little more regarding the outcome of the airstrikes or even how many aircraft were involved. It seems possible that decimating the island was not necessarily intended to kill the remaining ISIS elements in the region, but rather to ensure they could no longer use the island as a transportation hub in the future.

“Follow-on ground clearance operations are currently taking place by the 2nd Iraqi Special Operations Forces Battalion to destroy a major transit hub for [ISIS] members moving from Syria and the Jazeera desert into Mosul, Makhmour, and the Kirkuk region” of Iraq, the coalition said.

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