Price Tag for Fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria: $5.5 Billion, So Far

Price Tag for Fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria: $5.5 Billion, So Far
(AP Photo/Belal Darder)

The United States is spending $11 million per day on the operation against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, which includes airstrikes as well as training of local forces.

That price tag comes out to $5.5 billion overall as of Dec. 15.

Col. Steve Warren, the spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, told reporters at the Pentagon in a teleconference from Baghdad that the air campaign has included 65,492 sorties and 9,782 airstrikes.

About two-thirds of those strikes have been in Iraq, with the rest in Syria.

“Since the beginning of May, coalition strikes have killed approximately 95 senior and mid-level ISIL leaders,” Warren said. “We have provided basic combat training for 16,715 personnel, and we have put thousands more through various specialized training programs.”

On Monday, coalition forces conducted a second airstrike on financial facilities near Mosul — a “cash collection point.” A video was shown of the building blowing up.

“We hit them with the GBU [Guided Bomb Unit] 31s and 39s. What you saw in that video was the second half, the smaller ones, the 250-pounders, the small-diameter ones. You saw three of them go in there in rapid succession,” Warren said.

“And you could see two things I thought in that video that to me were striking. One was how the building itself caved in on itself, leaving the other buildings nearby relatively unscathed. And then the extraordinary precision. You know, three GBUs, you know, into the same spot in that roof near simultaneously,” he added.

“The amount of money, we don’t have an exact count, we know it’s in the tens of millions of dollars. Whether or not it was in dollars or dinars or a combination of both we’re not entirely certain, but we do know that we have impacted their ability to pay their fighters in the immediate term.”

ISIS has posted recent photos paying residents in controlled areas with U.S. dollars, after they’d promised to mint their own gold dinars.

“These cash strikes combined with our other strikes against their industrial base we believe are having an accumulative effect,” Warren said. “…So we’re going to continue to keep the pressure on all of these different lines, these military lines, right, on their — on their leadership to cause confusion and hate and discontent within the ranks, on their finances to cause them to not be able to continue financing their various operations, whether they’re local or more external.”

The spokesman said trying to clear the city of Ramadi is still a slow and “painstaking” process.

“They’ve literally found thousands of booby-traps, IEDs, buried explosives; houses rigged to explode with a single trip-wire. So it a very complicated clearance process that goes on — or that’s going on,” Warren said. “They’ve cleared a majority of the downtown city center and are now pushing east and north into the Sufia district, which is really a suburb of Ramadi.”

He estimated coalition strikes “have killed several thousand enemy fighters” in Ramadi, and the Iraqi Security Forces “have helped rescue more than 3,600 civilians who have been trapped” by ISIS.