As ISIS adapts, limits of airstrikes become clear

ERBIL, Iraq -- American and British planes hit the extremist group ISIS again in Iraq on Wednesday, and the French government said it would send more planes into the fight.

Thanks in part to the U.S. strikes, ISIS militants fled Hassan Sham village last month -- beaten back by Kurdish fighters, who are working closely with the U.S.

But the ISIS inflicted as much damage as they could before they left, even blowing up a bridge to protect their retreat.

Hassan Sham's streets are now deserted. At least one home was booby-trapped with an explosive.

The Kurdish fighters say the only reason they were able to recapture this village was a series of U.S. airstrikes that pinned the ISIS militants down in one position and destroyed several of their armored vehicles.

The Kurdish fighters, known as the peshmerga, told CBS News they coordinated American airstrikes on buildings in the village that were being used as ISIS command centers.

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Kurdish fighters, known as the Peshmerga, seen here
CBS News

But at a nearby peshmerga camp, Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Rowsch Shaways, a Kurd himself, said it was "remarkable" to see the way ISIS was changing its tactics due to the U.S. and coalition airstrikes.

"They are not moving in columns, in big columns," Shaways said. "They are trying to hide their vehicles."

And ISIS remains firmly in control of Mosul, Iraq's second largest city.

At a peshmerga position overlooking Mosul, they Kurdish fighters showed off a heavy machine gun they captured from ISIS.

If the peshmerga hope to retake the city, they won't be able to rely on airstrikes to help them.

"This is not possible," explained Shaways. "Cities like Mosul, with a high population and lots of civilians, are not good for airstrikes, unlike an empty area."

Many Iraqis have told CBS News that the only way to force ISIS out of big cities like Mosul, is to convince local Sunni populations to rise up against the group. So far, that hasn't happened.