The US is dropping anti-Daesh leaflets into Syria to discourage recruitment

Published March 28th, 2015 - 12:52 GMT

As the US-led airstrikes rain down on Daesh positions in Syria, the Pentagon is also trying a different, much lighter, tactic in the skies southwest of Raqqa. US officials said Thursday an F-15 fighter jet dropped tens of thousands of graphic leaflets near the group's stronghold in a move aimed at discouraging recruitment to their ranks, Reuters reported.

Depicting a grisly scene of recruits lining up to be pulverized in a meat grinder, the leaflets are part of what the Pentagon formally refers to as its “Military Information Support Operations," or MISO, wing, which specializes in tactics aimed at changing mentality on the battlefield. Officials said the plane dropped some 60,000 on March 16. 

Critics of the operation say the images depected are overtly gruesome and in poor taste. Faysal Itani, a Fellow at the Atlantic Center in Washington, told Al Jazeera the move was also unlikely to be effective, as Daesh recruits were usually driven by idealogy or forced into their ranks.

It also doesn't help, he said, that the message was coming from an air force who was also carrying out bombings in Raqqa.

Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren said the operation was the first of its kind in Syria, but MISO has launched campaigns like it during wartime elsewhere.

“The message of this leaflet is that if you allow yourself to be recruited by Daesh, you will find yourself in a meat grinder,” he said. “It’s not beneficial to your health.”


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