America's Year In War

America's year in war: All the places US armed forces took or gave fire in 2018

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By John Haltiwanger, Business Insider

  • The US military gave or took fire in some form or another in at least seven countries in 2018: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, and Libya.
  • At least 15 US soldiers were killed in Afghanistan in 2018 in a war that entered its 18th year in October.
  • The US military also continues to be active in Iraq and Syria in the ongoing fight against the Islamic State group, conducting airstrikes and advising local forces on the ground.
  • Under Trump, the US has also dramatically increased the number of drone strikes in places the US is not currently at war.

The US military gave or took fire in some form or another in at least seven countries in 2018: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, and Libya.

Here's a breakdown of America's military involvement in each country.

Read more: Trump inherited Obama's drone war and he's significantly expanded it in countries where the US is not technically at war

Read more: The most elite US-trained forces in Afghanistan routed by the Taliban, another sign the war is a lost cause

The war in Afghanistan

U.S. Army Pfc. Aaron Birmingham, an infantryman with 1st Platoon, Company D, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Task Force Duke, from Alpena, Mich., keeps on eye on a wadi in Andar, Afghanistan, April 21, 2018 U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Andrew Guffey

At least 15 US soldiers were killed in Afghanistan in 2018 in a war that entered its 18th year in October.

The deadliest incident of the year occurred in late November, involving a roadside bomb that ultimately claimed the lives of four US service members. This marked the largest loss of life in a single incident for the US in Afghanistan since 2015.

There are currently roughly 14,000 US troops in Afghanistan.

The fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria

Members of 5th Special Forces Group (A) conducting 50. Cal Weapons training during counter ISIS operations at Al Tanf Garrison in southern Syria. US Marine Corps

The US military also continues to be active in Iraq and Syria in the ongoing fight against the Islamic State group, conducting airstrikes and advising local forces on the ground.

At least 10 US service members were killed in Iraq in 2018, though none of the deaths were a direct result of enemy action.

Master Sgt. Jonathan J. Dunbar was killed by a roadside bomb in Syria in late March.

Human rights groups have accused the US-led coalition of reckless behavior and "potential war crimes" in the fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

While civilian casualties are still being assessed for 2018, a report from the monitoring group Airwars said the US and its allies may have killed up to 6,000 civilians via strikes in Iraq and Syria in 2017 alone.

The US has been waging a campaign against the Islamic State group since August 2014.

In April, President Donald Trump also authorized missile strikes against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, targeting chemical weapons facilities in concert with the French and British.

Missile strikes on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Thomson Reuters

In April, President Donald Trump also authorized missile strikes against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, targeting chemical weapons facilities in concert with the French and British.

The US fired more than 118 missiles, more than twice the number it used in an attack on Syria's Sharyat Airbase on April 7, 2017.

Shadow wars in Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and Pakistan

Somali government soldiers secure the scene of an attack on a restaurant by the Somali Islamist group Al Shabaab in the capital Mogadishu, Somalia, October 1, 2016. Feisal Omar/Reuters

Under Trump, the US has also dramatically increased the number of drone strikes in places the US is not currently at war.

In 2018, there have been a slew of strikes in Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and Pakistan, where the US is fighting what have been dubbed "shadow wars."

The US conducted at least one drone strike in Pakistan in 2018, at least 36 in Yemen, and at least 39 in Somalia, according to The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which has been tracking US drone strikes in these countries for years.

As the numbers above show, the US military has been particularly active in Somalia this year, where it's been focusing on aiding local forces in the fight against the Islamist militant group al Shabaab, which is an al Qaeda affiliate.

In June, Staff Sgt. Alexander W. Conrad was killed in southwestern Somalia when militants attacked his team as it worked alongside Somali and Kenyan troops.

The US has also been active in Libya in 2018, where it's launched roughly half a dozen air strikes against militants linked to al Qaeda and the Islamic State group.

A US strike conducted in Libya in late November killed 11 al Qaeda-linked militants, according to US Africa Command. But locals have reportedly protested after the strike, claiming civilians were targeted.

The war on terror entered its 18th year in 2018

U.S. Marines of Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Regiment take a position on a rooftop while fighting the Taliban in the village of Dahaneh Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2009, in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

The various operations in which the US took or gave fire in 2018 were linked to the so-called "war on terror."

Since the terror attacks on September 11, 2001, the US has spent nearly $6 trillion on the broad, ill-defined conflict, which has claimed nearly 500,000 lives, according to an annual report from the Costs of War project at Brown University's Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs.

According to the report, America is conducting counterterror operations in 76 countries, and nearly 7,000 US troops have been killed since the war on terror began.

SEE ALSO: America's 'war on terror' has cost the US nearly $6 trillion and killed roughly half a million people, and there's no end in sight

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