A U.S. Air Force F-15E fighter jet was sent by the Pentagon to the town of Ar-Raqqa in Syria. The jet supplied an air raid of leaflets to the town, trying to persuade citizens not to join Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria.
Airborne leaflet propaganda is a form of psychological warfare in which leaflets (flyers) are scattered in the air. Military forces have used aircraft to drop leaflets to attempt to alter the behavior of combatants and non-combatants in enemy-controlled territory, sometimes in conjunction with air strikes. Humanitarian air missions, in cooperation with leaflet propaganda, can turn the populace against enemy combatants.
“The message of this leaflet is, if you allow yourself to be recruited by Daesh, you will find yourself in a meat-grinder that is not beneficial to your health,” said Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren. Daesh is a derogatory Arabic nickname for the group that means, “to trample underfoot.”
The leaflets show a harrowing image: an ISIS recruiting office with the newly recruited, lined up, to join their efforts. A sign with an arrow points to “Da’ish Recruiting Office,” ultimately leading to a meat grinder labeled “Da’ish.” In the image you can see a television screen in the corner with the words “Now serving 6001.” A scared young man at the front of the line is holding a ticket with that number on it.
The U.S. and coalition partners have conducted other airstrikes near Ar-Raqqa, but this marks the first time that they have dropped leaflets.
Defense experts say the leaflets were aimed at trying to take advantage of divisions in the city. Reports say there are disputes over Western recruits being treated better than locals.
Nicholas Heras, the center for a New American Security said the Pentagon was “trying to set the stage for an internal uprising against ISIS.”
Experts have questioned the efficacy and tenor of the 60,000 copies dropped by the jet via canisters on board.
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Military Connection: F-15E Drops Leaflets Over Syria: By Debbie Gregory