It's always valuable to keep the world in perspective. While so many people around the world are cozying up for their final, frigid days of the 2014 year, there are some people forced to brave surging hostilities and bloodshed. There may be nowhere this is truer than in Iraq and Syria, where ISIS militants have taken over broad swaths of the two nations' territories, and are fueling international retaliation — a U.S. coalition launched 12 airstrikes against ISIS on Saturday, furthering the struggle between the Islamic militant group and its international opponents that's been raging for months.
The bloodshed that's occurred thanks to ISIS' rise in the Middle East has been at its most publicized and high-profile when it's been wrought upon the group's Western captives — the beheading deaths of Americans James Foley, Peter Kassig and Steven Sotloff, for example, as well as those of Britons Alan Henning and David Haines. But make no mistake, with all due respect to anyone who's died as a result of this conflict, the truly harrowing toll of ISIS' violent course has been felt on the ground in Iraq and Syria.
The plight of the Yezidis in particular, an ethnic and religious minority living within northern Iraq, has been truly awful — as detailed in a recent Amnesty International report, they've been the targets of an attempted genocide, with the rape of women and girls becoming weapons of war.
These airstrikes Saturday aren't a new or revolutionary step, by any means — the U.S.-led coalition, which includes Australia, Britain and Canada, have mounted these kinds of strikes before. And they've borne out some results, despite the obvious risks of escalation that make so many Americans wary.
When the U.S. got involved in the battle against ISIS, it came with a pledge from President Obama that no American ground troops would be deployed as a result, but that's the kind of promise that can be sorely tested in the heat of the moment. Indeed, American troops have fought on the ground with ISIS militants already, when the latter attacked a U.S. base in Iraq in December (they weren't deployed for that purpose, however).
The airstrikes launched Saturday were, at least by early reports, successful in hitting some ISIS vehicles, as well as a refinery the group had seized, according to The Guardian. In recent days, further airstrikes have been reported to strike leaders within ISIS, including the killing of their governor of Mosul, one of the Iraqi towns they've turned into a stronghold in recent months.
As it stands now, the U.S.-led battle against ISIS figures to continue as likely the biggest, brightest military issue in the American consciousness in 2015, just as it has in the latter-half of 2014, so rest assured this won't be the last story of airstrikes you hear in the days to come — hopefully, by this time next year, the world will find itself in a more peaceful place.
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