Peace

A Response to a Comment from “Jason”

Earlier this morning I received a comment on my article about the shooting in Paris from a user named Jason. In this comment this user said my article lacked substance, sounded like something from FOX News, and was total “bullshit”.

The shooting in Paris I do not believe to be a case of “murderers being murderers,” as I believe Jason described it. There are no isolated phenomenas in the world, all phenomenas are interconnected and interdependent, and this is clearly evident in the Paris shooting of the satirical magazine. Two French-born citizens of Algerian heritage – let me remind readers that Algeria suffered a devastating war of independence from France between 1954-1962 that killed 1.5 million and remains under the economic domination of France – returned from Syria, where these suspects received paramilitary training in Islamist camps with the support of the U.S., Saudi Arabia, the Persian Gulf states, Turkey, and Israel, and attacked a magazine that was virulently racist and xenophobic.

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Attack on Paris a Direct Consequence of Western Imperialism

The tragic shooting in Paris of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which published caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed in 2011, that left 12 people dead is a direct consequence of Western imperialism’s interventions in the Middle East.

The U.S. and its Western imperialist allies have continuously violated the national sovereignty and the right to self-determination of every country in the Middle East and North Africa in the last 50 years. Attacks such as the shooting in Paris, the September 11th attacks on New York (if we are to believe the dubious official story of the U.S. government), the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, the attempted attack on the Eiffel Tower by Algerian hijackers in 1994, the London bombings of 2005, the Sydney Hostage Crisis, all are an inevitable consequence of the Western imperialism’s policies towards the people of the Greater Middle East and North Africa. From the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, the overthrow of Iran’s democratic leadership in 1953, to more recently supporting some of the world’s most reactionary and undemocratic monarchies and funding Islamic paramilitaries in Syria and Libya, the people of the Greater Middle East and North Africa have had their human and political rights subordinated to the interests of Western imperialism for decades.

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The Global Scale of U.S. Militarism

From WSWS

Last month President Obama dispatched a formal letter to the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, listing a series of countries where US troops were or have been engaged in military operations during 2014. The preamble explains that the document is “consistent with the War Powers Resolution (Public Law 93-148), as part of my efforts to keep the Congress informed about deployments of U.S. Armed Forces equipped for combat.”

The War Powers Resolution was enacted by Congress in 1973, in the aftermath of the US withdrawal from Vietnam, and over the veto of President Richard Nixon, to require the president to keep the legislative branch regularly appraised of military operations that were being conducted without a congressional declaration of war.

Obama’s letter outlines a series of military operations in 2014, some completed, some ongoing, that go far beyond what is generally reported in the American media, which is generally limited to news of Afghanistan, the Iraq-Syria conflict (albeit very little) and occasional reports of drone missile strikes.

Not a single major US newspaper reported the issuance of the letter, titled, “Six Month Consolidated War Powers Resolution Report,” although it was released by the White House Press Office December 11 and is available on the White House web site.

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If one combines the operations reported in this letter with published reports about the deployment of US troops in supposed noncombat situations, as well as joint military exercises with NATO countries and other US allies, it is possible to present a picture of the vast worldwide scope of US military activities in the course of last year.

The map presented here shows the countries where US forces are deployed in four of the six regional theaters of operations for the US military (all but the Northern and Southern Commands, which cover the Western hemisphere).

The White House letter to Congress declares that as part of operations against Al Qaeda and associated forces, “the United States has deployed combat-equipped forces to a number of locations in the U.S. Central, Pacific, European, Southern, and Africa Command areas of operation.”

The Obama administration thus maintains in full the pretext for global deployment of US military power, the “war on terror” first declared by George W. Bush in 2001. There is, of course, no acknowledgement that in several countries, notably Libya and Syria, Al Qaeda is not the enemy but a key ally in US efforts to overthrow the regimes of Muammar Gaddafi (murdered in 2011) and Bashar al-Assad (who would face a similar fate in the event of victory of the US-backed “rebels”).

The Obama letter continues: “It is not possible to know at this time the precise scope or the duration of the deployments of US Armed Forces necessary to counter this terrorist threat to the United States.” In other words, the Obama administration, like its predecessor, has declared war on the world, reserving the right to send US military forces anywhere, anytime, regardless of any decision by Congress, let alone the wishes of the American people.

The letter devotes its main focus to the areas of responsibility of the US Central Command and US Africa Command, the first comprising the Middle East and Central Asia from Israel to Pakistan, the second comprising the entire African continent.

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Palestinians Join International Criminal Courts, Prompting Israeli Threats

From Antiwar.com

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas today signed the Palestinian Authority up for membership at the International Criminal Court (ICC), in response to the failed bid for recognition as a state at the UN Security Council, which the US vetoed.

The move sets the stage for Palestinians to complain about the Israeli military’s commission of war crimes, and sparked a threat of retaliation by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who insisted that ISIS carries out war crimes, and Hamas is like ISIS, and Abbas had ties with Hamas, so Abbas could face similar charges.

The US also opposed Abbas’ move, as indeed it opposes anything that might upset Israel, with the State Department saying they were “deeply troubled” by the prospect of Palestine being an ICC member.

Both the US and Israel are signatories to the ICC charter, though both have also indicated that they never intend to ratify the agreement and bring themselves into compliance.

Palestinian statehood bid fails at UN Security Council as US, Australia vote against

From RT

The UN Security Council has failed to adopt the Arab coalition’s bid calling for the creation of a Palestinian state and an end to Israeli “occupation”. The veto power US and Australia voted against the move with 5 abstentions.

The draft resolution gathered only 8 votes in favour, so it was automatically defeated. The US however still used its veto power and voted against the resolution. Another veto power state, the UK, along with Lithuania, Nigeria, Korea and Rwanda have abstained from the vote.

“This resolution sets the stage for more division, not for compromise,” said US Ambassador Samantha Power, calling the draft a “staged confrontation.”

“The United kingdom supports much of the content of the draft resolution. It is therefore with deep regret that we abstained from it,” said UK ambassador to the UN, Mark Lyall Grant. “We are disappointed that the normal and necessary negotiation did not take place on this occasion.”

However, Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said that Moscow “cannot share the objections of those who believe that the draft resolution was undermining the prospects of the negotiating process.”

“Unfortunately last year revealed how this process has gone into a blind alley, with its monopolization by the United States and their pullback from the Quartet [US, EU, UN and Russia]. We believe this to be a strategic mistake,” said Churkin.

“This draft reflects just demands of Arab states, including the Palestinian people, and is in accord with the relevant UN resolutions, the ‘land for peace’ principle, the Arab peace initiative and middle-Eastern peace roadmap. And is also in accord with China’s consistent position. We express deep regret over the failure of the draft resolution to be adopted,” said Liu Jieyi, China’s permanent representative to the United Nations.

An official bid for statehood was submitted to the Council Tuesday by a Jordan-led Arab coalition. The bid featured a revised draft resolution of a similar proposal submitted earlier this month. Delegates voted on the measure Tuesday afternoon.

Highly opposed by the US and Israel, the first version of the draft resolution was submitted “in blue” to the UN Security Council last Wednesday. The Council includes five permanent members who hold veto power and ten additional members who serve two-year terms.

The resolution gives 12 months for a “just, lasting and comprehensive peaceful solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which it regards as the creation of a “sovereign and viable” Palestinian state based on 1967 borders, as well as the withdrawal of all Israeli forces from the occupied territory by 2017.

Its text had already seen several amendments that concern East Jerusalem as capital of the future state of Palestine, Israeli settlement building, and Palestinian refugees’ right of return, Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee member Abu Yousef told Asharq Al-Awsatnewspaper.

According to the current draft, Jerusalem is regarded as the capital of both Israel and Palestine, but the role of East Jerusalem in a future Palestinian state is not specified. “International legitimacy is our ceiling on this issue, and we cannot drop below this ceiling,” Yousef told the paper.

“I think there is very little doubt that any resolution in the Security Council that actually created a Palestinian state or called for real statehood would be vetoed,” US activist and journalist Phyllis Bennis told RT. “I think there is a big question whether the drafts that are now circulating actually do that. The French amendments in particular significantly weaken the idea that this is something that would actually create the Palestinian state.”

Bennis explained that “there is no consequence named. The resolution is not taken under either Chapter 6 or Chapter 7, which are the coercive chapters of the UN charter.” These chapters imply the use of military force and putting pressure against the state, such as sanctions.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday his administration would “no longer deal” with Israel in case of the resolution’s failure. “If the Arab-Palestinian initiative submitted to the Security Council to put an end to [Israeli] occupation doesn’t pass, we will be forced to take the necessary political and legal decisions,” the Algerian APS news agency quoted Abbas as saying.

Last Thursday, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman called a UN bid for Palestinian statehood an “act of aggression.”

“Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is adopting measures whose sole aim is to attack Israel, with no benefit for the Palestinians,” Lieberman said in a statement.

This summer, tensions in Jerusalem and the West Bank escalated, leading to the 50-day conflict between the Israel Defense Forces and Palestinians. Operation Protective Edge claimed over 2,200 lives – most of them Gaza civilians.

U.S. Airdrops Weapons to ISIS as Iraqi Army Makes Gains

From Global Research

Iranian state media claims U.S. military aircraft have once again dropped weapons in areas held by the Islamic State.

Iraqi volunteers fighting against IS in the Yathrib and Balad districts in Iraq’s Salahuddin Province reported the air drops.

Iraq claims it now has the upper hand in the battle to regain territory from the terrorist group.

In October a purported errant airdrop of weapons fell into the hands Islamic State fighters outside Kobani in Syria.

In November Iraqi intelligence sources said the U.S. is actively supplying ISIS with weapons.

“The Iraqi intelligence sources reiterated that the US military planes have airdropped several aid cargoes for ISIL terrorists to help them resist the siege laid by the Iraqi army, security and popular forces,” a report stated.

“What is important is that the US sends these weapons to only those that cooperate with the Pentagon and this indicates that the US plays a role in arming the ISIL.”

The London-based organization Conflict Armament Research previously reported that ISIS fighters are using “significant quantities” of arms including M16 assault rifles marked “property of the US government.”

In June Aaron Klein, writing for WorldNetDaily, reported that members of ISIS were trained in 2012 by U.S. instructors working at a secret base in Jordan, according to informed Jordanian officials.

The U.S. does not admit arming and training ISIS terrorists, although General Martin E. Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, admitted in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee that United States’ Arab allies in the Middle East fund ISIS.

General Thomas McInerney told Fox News in September that the U.S. “helped build ISIS” as a result of the group obtaining weapons from the Benghazi consulate in Libya which was attacked by jihadists in September 2012.

“We backed I believe in some cases, some of the wrong people and not in the right part of the Free Syrian Army and that’s a little confusing to people, so I’ve always maintained… that we were backing the wrong types,” McInerney said.

The U.S. claims it is arming “moderate” mercenaries in Syria to fight against ISIS and the al-Assad government in Damascus despite the fact there are no longer any moderate forces active.

The CIA has shipped weapons to al-Qaeda affiliated groups in Syria since at least 2012, a fact revealed byThe New York Times.

The shipments included more than 160 military cargo flights by Jordanian, Saudi and Qatari military cargo planes landing at Esenboga Airport near Ankara and other Turkish and Jordanian airports. An effort to arm al-Nusra – now fully merged with ISIS – and other jihadist groups has been coordinated by American intelligence.

Taliban Declares Defeat of NATO in Afghanistan

From Antiwar.com

NATO’s flag-lowering ceremonies in Afghanistan and attempts to spin the 13+ year Afghan War as over belie the reality, which is that the war is simply transitioning to a more US-dominated conflict, with little tangible change between now and January 1.

The PR move is a risky one, however, because if the war was over, it’d be time to start wondering who won. The Taliban has been quick to jump into the conversation, insisting they had defeated NATO.

The Taliban’s new statement noted NATO had not achieved anything substantial in the 13-plus years of occupation, and said that the war end ceremonies proved a demoralized force was turning and running.

Unfortunately, some 13,000 US and allied occupation forces will remain in Afghanistan, with a deal to leave troops through 2024 and beyond. The war seems set to continue, in everything but name, through its second decade and well into its third, with no end in sight, and no winners.

War in Afghanistan Far from Over

Now into its 13th year U.S. and NATO are announcing the end to combat missions in Afghanistan and the withdrawal of troops, but despite the symbolic flag-lowering ceremony, the U.S.-led war is in fact not ending, and the brutal war is set to continue through 2015. NATO is set to “transition” to a non-combat, “Resolute Support” mission to assist the Afghan National Army in its operations, with 4, 000 NATO troops to remain in Afghanistan into 2015.

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President Obama has authorized the 10, 800 U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan in 2015, an increase of 1, 000 from his May pledge to reduce U.S. troops in the country, to resume combat operations against Afghan militants, including night raids by Special Operation soldiers, previously banned by former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and ariel strikes. A senior American military officer was quoted saying that “the Air Force expects to use F-16 fighters, B-1B bombers and Predator and Reaper drones to go after the Taliban in 2015.”

The continuation of combat operations in Afghanistan by U.S. troops comes after the signing of the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) between the U.S. and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, a former U.S. citizen and World Bank employee, a highly controversial agreement that was followed by a wave of attacks. The agreement allows for thousands of U.S. troops to remain in the country for another decade and grants all U.S. servicemen immunity from prosecution under Afghan laws. Several massacres and unlawful acts were committed by U.S. troops in Afghanistan, including the murder of 16 Afghan civilians in Kandahar and the footage of U.S. soldiers urinating on the dead bodies of Afghans and posing for photographs with dead civilians.

The U.S. and its imperialist allies have a long history of occupations and interference in Afghanistan. In the 1980s, the U.S. and its allies through Pakistan funded radical Islamic counterrevolutionaries, including bin Laden and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, that fought to topple the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA), then implementing widespread social reforms that benefited millions of Afghans. These “freedom fighters,” as former U.S. President Ronald Reagan described them, tortured teachers and activists, burnt down schools, poisoned children, and raped women.

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Babrak Karmal, first President of the People’s Democratic Republic of Afghanistan

After the PDPA was overthrown, the U.S. largely disengaged from Afghanistan, having accomplished its primary objective, and the various counterrevolutionary factions fought amongst themselves in a devastating civil war. Later the Taliban, an organization of Islamic students led by Mullah Mohammed Omar, defeated these factions and captured Kabul in 1996. The U.S., “keen to see Afghanistan under strong central rule to allow a US-led group to build a multi-billion-dollar oil and gas pipeline” from Turkmenistan to the Arabian Sea, indirectly supported the Taliban’s rise to power through Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

The U.S.-led 2001 invasion of Afghanistan had nothing to do with 9/11 or bin Laden. Notwithstanding the scientific inaccuracies of the official 9/11 story, the FBI has admitted it lacks any hard evidence to formally indict bin Laden for his responsibility in 9/11, only the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. The U.S.-led invasion was an imperialist war of resource plundering and transferring public wealth into private hands. The media went into a frenzy when the U.S. “discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan” in 2010. The New York Times even declared that Afghanistan could become “the Saudi Arabia of lithium,” a mineral used in the manufacture of batteries. It is inconceivable that U.S. authorities weren’t aware of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth before the invasion; the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s confirmed the existence of enormous mineral reserves and produced “superb geological maps and reports that listed more than 1,400 mineral outcroppings, along with about 70 commercially viable deposits.”

Since the U.S. and NATO invaded Afghanistan the drug trade has boomed. Prior to the invasion, opium cultivation was banned by the Taliban in collaboration with the United Nations, and by 2001 the crop had declined by 90% to 185 tonnes. After the U.S. invasion the opium crop had skyrocketed to 3400 tonnes in 2002 under former President Hamid Karzai. The drug trade was an important source of covert funding for the Afghan counterrevolutionaries during the 1980s and 1990s and has long been under the control of the CIA. Mujahideen counterrevolutionaries forced Afghan peasants to plant opium, turning the Pakistan-Afghanistan border areas into the world’s top heroin producer, with the collaboration of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency in Islamabad.

Afghan farmers in their fields.

Afghan farmers in their fields.

The money from the drug trade is laundered through banks and recycled as covert funds for intelligence agencies. Money laundering, according to the IMF, constitutes 2-5% of the world’s GDP, and a significant share of money laundering is linked to the trade in narcotics. The trade in narcotics represents the third largest commodity after oil and arms, with powerful financial interests behind the trade. “From this standpoint, geopolitical and military control over the drug routes is as strategic as oil and oil pipelines,” writes Professor Michel Chossudovsky.

The Conflict Continues in the Central African Republic

With the West’s latest war in the Middle East against the Islamic State and the vilification of Russian President Vladimir Putin dominating the news it is easy to forget that the West is involved in numerous brutal military interventions around the world – in Afghanistan, Somalia, Mali, the Ivory Coast, Pakistan, the Central African Republic, Nigeria, Niger, Haiti, Yemen, and elsewhere.

The Central African Republic, an impoverished former French colony with abundant mineral resources, has been marred in sectarian violence since the start of hostilities between Seléka, a coalition of insurgents led by Michel Djotodja, a former guerrilla leader in the Bush War, and the regime of Francois Bozize. The Seléka rebels accused the regime of failing to abide by the peace agreements made in 2007 and 2011 that ended the Bush War.

Seléka rebels in Bangui. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

Seléka rebels in Bangui. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

Bozize, who had come to power through a military coup in 2003, had run afoul of Western imperialism when he signed mining and oil contracts with China; the U.S. and France indirectly supported the Seléka rebels by withholding support for the Bozize regime. In the words of Bozize: “Before giving oil to the Chinese, I met Total in Paris and told them to take the oil, nothing happened, I gave oil to the Chinese and it became a problem.” French President François Hollande cynically declared that the hundreds of French troops in the country were “in no way to intervene in internal affairs,” a clear indication of support for the rebels considering France has been intimately involved with the internal affairs of the country since its independence in 1960, including launching air strikes against anti-Bozize rebels in 2006 and 2007. The U.S. has dozens of Special Forces stationed in the CAR, ostensibly to assist in the search for Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, although likely being another deceptive cover for a regional imperialist intervention. When Bozize was overthrown in 2013 and Seléka’s leader Michel Djotodja declared himself president, then U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, infamous for her leaked “Fuck the EU” tape, symbolically condemned the coup, but stopped short of calling for Bozize’s return to power.

The country quickly deteriorated into a state of warfare following the coup; the predominately Muslim Seléka rebels that brought Djotodia to power, many of whom came from Chad and the Sudan, refused to disarm and committed mass atrocities against civilians, especially Christians from the country’s south. Christian peasants and Bozize supporters formed anti-Seléka groups known as anti-Balakas, and armed with machetes, committed retaliatory massacres against Muslims. Close to a million have since become internally displaced or fled to neighboring countries and there have been reports of widespread rape, torture, beheadings, recruitment of child soldiers, and even cannibalism.

The African Union and the United Nations formed the International Mission to Support CAR (MISCA), launched in the summer and expanded in December 2013 with a force of 6, 000 and support from the nearly 2, 000 French troops, to replace the regional African peacekeeping force. However these “peacekeepers” inflamed tensions in the country; the ‘neutral’ French soldiers have been accused of siding with the Christian anti-Balakas, and the African peacekeepers sent to restore peace have different agendas, with soldiers from Chad supporting the Seléka militias and soldiers from the Republic of Congo and Burundi supporting the anti-Balakas. Indeed, soldiers from Chad and Burundi attacked each other, causing Chad to withdraw its forces from the CAR.

Two protesters fatally shot by foreign peacekeepers in Bangui. (CNN)

Two protesters fatally shot by foreign peacekeepers in Bangui. (CNN)

France forced the resignation of Djotodia to be replaced by Catherine Samba-Panza, the former mayor of Bangui, in January 2014. Violence nevertheless continued, and the European Union deployed a thousand soldiers to the CAR, its first mission in six years. Several controversial incidents occurred where foreign soldiers killed unarmed protestors demonstrating against the transitional government and the presence of foreign troops in the country.

Despite the arrival of a larger United Nations peacekeeping force and a peace agreement between the belligerents, the sectarian violence continues, and in July the leader of Seléka called for the country to be partitioned into Christian and Muslim states.

The exploitation of the CAR’s extensive natural resources – oil, timber, gold, diamonds, copper, iron, and uranium – by Western corporations and competition with Chinese investments are the true reason for the Western-backed intervention.

It is well known that both Ivory Coast’s Gbagbo and former president François Bozize of CAR got into trouble with the master – meaning France – because they turned to China for win-win cooperation. They were swiftly removed from power. In the case of CAR, France opted for Michel Djotodia who headed the Seleka…which overthrew Bozize in a matter of weeks.

Former French President Jacques Chirac famously acknowledged in 2008 that “without Africa, France will slide down into the rank of a third [world] power.”

Several Western corporations have invested heavily to exploit the country’s mineral resources. Areva, the French-state owned nuclear corporation notorious for its exploitation of African uranium, was forced to suspend its Bakouma uranium mine, which is “France’s biggest commercial interest in its former colony,” following an attack on the mine by rebels. The first French troops to arrive in the country were sent to “protect its [France’s] nationals, many of whom work in Areva’s large uranium mine at Bakouma in the south-east of the country,” as reported by the BBC. Nuclear power is France’s main source of electricity, therefore a continuous supply of cheap uranium from Africa is vital for French economic interests, a fact that was not lost on the French ruling class when Bozize’s regime contested Areva’s acquisition of the mine.

Airstrikes against ISIS have cost $1 billion and killed 1, 100

From RT

US and coalition airstrikes against the Islamic State in Syria have killed nearly 1,200 people ‒ including 52 civilians ‒ and wounded at least 800 others at a cost of more than $1 billion since the bombings began in September.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said Thursday that airstrikes in Syria over the last three months have killed 1,046 fighters from the Islamic State – most of whom were non-Syrian fighters.

An additional 72 jihadists from Jabhat al-Nusra, a rival group, were killed in bombing raids against their headquarters in the western countryside of Aleppo and the northern countryside of Idlib.

Of the 52 dead civilians, eight were women and five were children. They died during coalition airstrikes on oil fields and refineries in the al-Hasakah and Der-Ezzor countrysides, as well as al-Raqqa, Menbej – located northeast of Aleppo – and the Idlib countryside.

“We, in SOHR, believed that the real number of casualties in ISIS is more than our number, because there is absolute secrecy on casualties and due to the difficulty of access to many areas and villages that have witnessed violent clashes and bombardment,” the group said in a Tuesday statement, expressing “strong condemnation” of the civilian deaths as a result of coalition activities.

While casualty figures are impossible to verify, the Britain-based SOHR is considered to be the most reliable resource “in a sea of misinformation” from both sides of the conflict, NPR reported.

Bombing began in Iraq against the Islamic State on August 8, and in Syria on September 23. The combined campaigns, called ‘Operation Inherent Resolve,’ has a total price tag of $1.02 billion, with a daily cost of $8.1 million through December 11, the Defense Department reported.

With the cost of the fight against the Islamic State crossing the billion-dollar mark, the operation will have its own inspector general to oversee US government spending, The Hill reported. Jon T. Rymer, the Pentagon’s inspector general, will serve as the lead inspector general for Operation Inherent Resolve, his office announced Monday. He will submit biannual reports to Congress, with the first to come in April 2015.

Last week, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel authorized the deployment of 1,300 additional US troops to Iraq, according to The Hill. The group is part of the 1,500 servicemembers that President Barack Obama authorized in November.

The previously announced total cost of the airstrike campaign was approximately $424 million, according to Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby. He averaged the DoD’s spending to be around $7.6 million a day. That number rose because of the number of airstrikes and related costs, a defense official told AFP.

The US and its partners conducted 31 new airstrikes on the Islamic State on Friday ‒ 15 in Iraq and 16 in Syria.

In Iraq, strikes took place near Al Asad, Sinjar, Mosul, Al Qaim, Bayji, Kirkuk, and Tal Afar. Bombs took out Islamic State weaponry (including mortar and rocket systems), as well as eight tactical units, two large Islamic State units, two fighter positions, several vehicles, and a storage containers, the Pentagon reported.

In Syria, the coalition launched strikes near Kobani, Al Hasakah, and Ar Raqqah, destroying three Islamic State buildings, three staging areas, a drilling tower, 19 fighting positions, and three vehicles. Airstrikes also hit two large and four tactical Islamic State units.

In total, the United States carried out 488 airstrikes in Syria through December 15, according to US military data published by Reuters.

Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Iraq include the US, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. Those conducting bombing raids in Syria include the US, Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.