This week, the U.S. and five allied Arab states expanded the aerial campaign into Syria, where the militant group is battling President Bashar Assad’s forces as well as Western-backed rebels. Despite making gains in some of the country’s more isolated areas, where airstrikes have paved the way for successful ground operations by Kurdish andIraqi forces, the cities of Mosul and Fallujah remain major strongholds of the group, which has buried itself among large civilian populations.
The militant group recently killed 40 Iraq soldiers and captured 68 near Fallujah and then paraded their captives through the city in a show of brawn.
Nearly a dozen countries have also provided weapons and training to Kurdish peshmerga fighters, who were strained after months of battling the jihadi group.
In other developments Thursday, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen visited northern Iraq for talks with Kurdish leaders about the fight against Islamic State extremists and Berlin’s efforts to help with arms deliveries.
Thursday also marked the start of German arms deliveries to the semi-autonomous Kurdish region, with the ultimate goal of supplying 10,000 Kurdish fighters with some 70 million euros ($90 million) worth of equipment.
"We are involved with relief shipments and the airlift, but we know that this is not sufficient," said von der Leyen. "Much more is needed to get these (millions of people) through the winter."