U.S. Air Force and Navy aircraft flew more than 2,700 missions to combat Islamic State in Iraq even before President Barack Obama announced an expanded military campaign against the Sunni extremists.

The 2,749 sorties through yesterday include surveillance and refueling aircraft, providing a fuller measure of the scope of operations than the 156 airstrikes that have been announced through today in statements by U.S. Central Command.

Surveillance aircraft spot potential targets, and refueling in flight lets U.S. combat aircraft loiter over an area, perhaps for hours, to observe, classify, verify and in some cases attack militants’ positions. That’s allowed U.S. fliers to drop 253 bombs and missiles that destroyed 212 Islamic State targets such as Humvees, checkpoints and armed vehicles, according to the Pentagon.

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