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IS 'Changing Tactics' In Iraq, Making Militants Harder To Strike

Islamic State fighters dig tunnels that they claim are helping them evade U.S. air strikes near Fallujah, Iraq.

Islamic State fighters dig tunnels that they claim are helping them evade U.S. air strikes near Fallujah, Iraq.

Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq are changing their tactics, making it harder for the United States and its Western allies to find and target them in air strikes, according to Canada's Iraq commander.

Colonel Daniel Constable, the commander of Canada's joint task force in the fight against IS in Iraq told reporters on November 13 that IS militants are concealing targets in order to make it more difficult for Western aircraft to locate and strike them.

As a result, Canadian aircraft are finding few targets to strike and have carried out only two air strikes out of a total of 68 sorties flown since October 30.

According to Constable, IS militants are using a variety of tactics to evade the coalition's air superiority. These include using "civilian-type vehicles" instead of tanks, hiding armored vehicles inside buildings or burying them in sand.

The Canadian military commander's comments come after Islamic State militants published a video showing the group digging tunnels that they claimed were helping them evade U.S. air strikes near Fallujah in Iraq.

The video, published on social media by Islamic State's media wing on November 9, claimed that the network of tunnels was used to distribute food and weapons, and is effectively serving as "supply routes to all the squads and HQs in the battle arenas." IS militants are also using the tunnels to sleep in, according to the video.

Canada's Colonel Constable said that even though it had resulted in fewer air strikes by coalition forces, that IS were carrying out such tactics was a positive sign because it indicated that the militant group is adopting a defensive strategy. This has meant that Iraqi ground troops can "move to offense," Constable said.

-- Joanna Paraszczuk

About This Blog

"Under The Black Flag" provides news, opinion, and analysis about the impact of the Islamic State (IS) extremist group in Syria, Iraq, and beyond. It focuses not only on the fight against terrorist groups in the Middle East, but also on the implications for the region and the world. The blog's primary author, James Miller, closely covered the first three years of the Arab Spring, with a focus on Syria, and is now the managing editor of The Interpreter, where he covers Russia's foreign and domestic policy and the Kremlin's wars in Syria and Ukraine. Follow him on Twitter: @Millermena


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