US-led coalition airstrikes have continued to target ISIS positions and infrastructure in northern Iraq in recent weeks, as Iraqi ground forces move closer to the terrorist group’s stronghold in Mosul, the largest city it still controls.
Now it seems that campaign has added a new rhetorical flourish.
Officials added text saying “You can run, but you can’t hide!” to the GIF below, appearing after the bomb explodes on its target.
On the task force’s Facebook page, the same version of the GIF above was posted with the message: “When Da’esh can’t quite get up to 88 mph…,” using a pejorative name for ISIS, and included the hashtags #defeatdaesh, #nottodayisis, #backtothefuture, #bttf, and #onemissionmanynations. The same GIF was also posted with messages written in Arabic.
When asked about the addition of the text to the GIF, the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) press desk said:
“The text was chosen to show Da’esh, potential terrorist recruits, and the general public that the coalition is capable of targeting Da’esh fighters anywhere and anytime; to demonstrate that the efforts of the Coalition to defeat Da’esh will be successful. … It also serves the purpose of showing that we have a very arduous targeting process; that we are watching Da’esh, no matter where they are, and we will defeat them.”
“This post has succeeded in generating discussions and will be used to help gauge whether Graphics Interchange Formats (GIF) will be used in the future,” the OIR press desk added in its statement. “By staying abreast of the most current and innovative social media trends, CJTF-OIR plans on expanding the audience reached.”
- Thomson Reuters
It’s not clear how effective such messaging will be, or how many potential ISIS recruits it could reach. It’s also likely the terrorist group’s recent defeats will deter many potential fighters, though reports that the group was losing fighters were appearing as far back as spring 2015.
Past criticism of US military operations in Muslim countries has often accused US and Western militaries of disregarding Muslim lives.
Messaging like the GIF above could be recast as propaganda in that vein, considering US airstrikes have killed civilians in the past.
The US-led air campaign has continued apace in September. In four days this month, there were more than 30 strikes on ISIS targets in Iraq, which included fighting units, weapons, and other infrastructure.
The general in charge of US operations against ISIS predicted this week that that battle for Mosul would start before early October, saying the fight for the city would have to begin relatively soon if the coalition hoped to retake it before the end of the year.
See the full video below: