B-52 bombers are now being used in Iraq and Syria to conduct precision strikes against the Islamic State, Agence France Presse
reported U.S. officials as saying.
Col. Steve Warren, a Baghdad-based spokesman, said a B-52 was sent Monday to destroy an IS weapons storage facility in the Iraqi town of Qayyarah, about 35 miles south of Mosul.
He said use of B-52s would not lead to a greater risk of civilian casualties because the aircraft are only being armed with guided bombs.
"There are memories in the collective unconscious of B-52s, decades ago, doing... arguably indiscriminate bombing," Warren said. "Those days are long gone. The B-52 is a precision strike weapons platform and it will conduct the same type of precision strikes that we have seen for the last 20 months."
The B-52 Stratofortress – originally designed in the 1950s – became a symbol of U.S. might during the Cold War and the plane was used to conduct carpet bombing in Vietnam.
The B-52s are replacing B-1 bombers that had been operating in the region for the past year, said AFP.
reported that the B-52s were deployed to Qatar earlier this month, the first time they have been based in the Middle East since the end of the Gulf War in 1991.
U.S. Air Forces Central Command said it last flew the long-range bombers operationally in the region in May 2006 as part of the war in Afghanistan, and during a U.S.-led military exercise in Jordan in May 2015.
"The B-52 demonstrates our continued resolve to apply persistent pressure on Daesh and defend the region in any future contingency," said Air Force Lieutenant General Charles Brown, commander of U.S. Air Forces Central Command.
Daesh is the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State militant movement.
Lt. Col. Chris Karns, spokesman for the Central Command, said he could not provide the exact number of B-52 bombers to be based at Al Udeid Air Basein Qatar due to "operational security reasons."
Washington's decision to deploy its powerful B-52 bombers to Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar came as the U.S. military stepped up the fight against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Brown said the bombers would be able to deliver precision weapons and carry out a range of missions, including strategic attack, close-air support, air interdiction, and maritime operations.
Karns said the bombers would enable U.S. forces to drop one or two munitions in an area, rather than use carpet bombing.
"Accuracy is critically important in this war," he said. "Carpet-bombing would not be effective for the operation we're in because Daesh doesn't mass as large groups. Often, they blend into population centers. We always look to minimize civilian casualties."
© 2022 Newsmax. All rights reserved.