By David Alexander
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. military has flown 2,320 air strikes against Islamic State militants since Aug. 8 at a cost of $1.83 billion, hitting thousands of targets including tanks, oil infrastructure and fighting positions, the Pentagon said on Thursday.
The strikes by U.S. forces amounted to about 80 percent of the total number carried out by a multinational coalition. In all, the partners have flown 2,893 air strikes, with 1,631 in Iraq and 1,262 in Syria, hitting 5,314 targets.
More than 60 countries are in the coalition against Islamic State. The United States, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Jordan, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom conduct air strikes in Iraq. The United States, Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates carry them out in Syria.
Pentagon spokesman Army Colonel Steve Warren confirmed that U.S. and Iraqi forces had also dropped propaganda leaflets on the city of Mosul to undermine support for Islamic State and its recruiting efforts.
Coalition strikes have hit 73 tanks, some of them U.S.-made Iraqi M1A1 Abrams tanks seized when Islamic State militants overran northwestern parts Iraq last year. They also destroyed 282 Humvee vehicles that had been taken from Iraqi forces.
The strikes targeted 408 Islamic State staging areas, 1,003 fighting positions and 87 oil collection points, Warren said.
An air strike can involve multiple weapons against multiple targets.
The tally covered air strikes conducted between Aug. 8, 2014, and March 18, 2015. The Pentagon has said that as a result of the strikes oil sales are no longer the primary source of revenue for Islamic State.
As of March 12, the Pentagon had spent about $1.83 billion on the strikes, an average of about $8.5 million daily, Warren said.
Warren confirmed that around March 16 coalition forces had destroyed a drone operated by a militant near the Iraqi city of Fallujah. U.S. forces believed the device was essentially a model aircraft that would have been commercially available to anyone, Warren said.
"The drone was not shot down. We observed it flying for approximately 20 minutes. We observed it land. We observed the enemy place the drone in the trunk of a car and we struck the car, destroying both the vehicle and the model airplane in the trunk," Warren said.
He said it was unclear how the pilot had been using the drone or if it was carrying devices such as a camera to conduct reconnaissance.
"To my knowledge this is the first time we've observed ISIL using these types of equipment," Warren said, using an acronym for the group.
(Reporting by David Alexander; Editing by Toni Reinhold)