The Pentagon is already describing its first wave of airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria as "very successful," but in Iraq, where the air campaign has been going on for weeks, progress appears minimal.
U.S. and some European airpower has helped Iraqi security forces and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters stop the Islamic State from taking the de facto Kurdish capital of Erbil in the north and has helped ground forces retake the strategically important Mosul Dam. So far, however, these efforts have been unable to wrest back the vast stretches of territory the Islamic State seized this spring or to prevent large-scale IS attacks like its slaughter this week of hundreds of Iraqi soldiers at a remote, besieged army base in western Anbar province.
Now, the attention shifts to Syria, where the United States, with the support of five Arab partner nations, kicked off an air campaign against the Islamic State Monday night with a powerful mix or armed drones, F-16s, and Tomahawk cruise missiles fired by Navy vessels in the Red Sea and the northern Arabian Gulf. The strikes targeted the Islamic State, but also members of a lesser-known al Qaeda cell called the Khorasan Group.