The US is set to ramp up its air presence in Syria by deploying its powerful Boeing B-52 Stratofortress long-range strategic bomber. The aircraft is capable of simultaneously dropping 32 tons of bombs and can carry a nuclear warhead payload.
The B-52 Stratofortress will start its first bombing campaign against ISIS in April, according to the Air Force Times although it's not clear how many B-52s or airmen will take part.
The bombers will replace a fleet of Rockwell B-1 Lancer supersonic aircraft, which had been striking terrorist positions near Kobani in the Middle East Islamic State stronghold for several months and have now been recommissioned to their base in Texas, according to a report from Fox News. The aircraft, sometimes nicknamed the "Big Ugly Fat Fella," first took to the skies in 1954 and regularly takes part in military exercises around the world.
The US has recently been using Turkey's Incirlik airbase to target insurgents in Syria. The last time the modernised B-52s were involved in a US conflict was during the invasion of Afghanistan. B-52 bombers will remain in active service until at least 2040, despite ceasing production in 1962.
The B52 bomber can cruise at a maximum altitude of 50,000 feet and has a range of 7,650 miles. The plane first took to the skies in 1954 and can carry up to 70,000 pounds of payload. It will start its first bombing campaign against IS fighters in April.
A ceasefire between government forces and rebels in Syria is currently in operation and is largely holding despite skirmishes in some areas, according to UN envoy Staffan de Mistura. The US- and Russia-brokered "cessation of hostilities" is now a week old and was brought in to allow humanitarian aid efforts in the country. However, according to de Mistura the situation remains "fragile" and sporadic fighting is continuing in several places, including Damascus, Homs and Latakia.