U.S. launches air-strike campaign against ISIS in Syria
This post is in partnership with Time. The article below was originally published at Time.com.
By Zeke J. Miller
U.S. and allied forces launched airstrikes against Islamist militants in Syria for the first time late Monday, the Pentagon confirmed.
The strikes, which were carried out early Tuesday morning local time, were aimed at key targets of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), including its base of operations in Raqqa, Syria, as well as a secretive al-Qaeda offshoot known as the Khorasan Group. “I can confirm that U.S. military and partner nation forces are undertaking military action against [ISIS] terrorists in Syria, using a mix of fighter, bomber and Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles,” Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement on Monday night.
In an unprecedented move, the U.S. was accompanied by five Arab nations in the strikes, U.S. Central Command said in a statement: Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Those nations all participated in, or supported, the strikes.
“The strikes destroyed or damaged multiple ISIL targets in the vicinity of Ar Raqqah, Dayr az Zawr, Al Hasakah, and Abu Kamal and included ISIL fighters, training compounds, headquarters and command and control facilities, storage facilities, a finance center, supply trucks and armed vehicles,” CENTCOM said Tuesday.
President Barack Obama authorized the military to begin a broad-based aerial campaign against ISIS forces in Iraq and Syria earlier this month, and is working to assemble a global coalition to combat the group, which has seized vast swaths of Iraqi and Syrian territory.
The strikes began the night before Obama was set to travel to New York City for a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly. A White House official said Obama is being updated on the operation.
The military said the American effort included 47 Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from the USS Arleigh Burke and USS Philippine Sea operating from the Red Sea and North Arabian Gulf, “as well as U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps fighter, remotely piloted and bomber aircraft.”
“The United States conducted these strikes as part of the President’s comprehensive strategy to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL,” CENTCOM said. “Going forward, the U.S. military will continue to conduct targeted airstrikes against ISIL in Syria and Iraq as local forces go on the offensive against this terrorist group.”
The strikes against Khorasan Group were unexpected, and involved only American assets. Senior government officials have raised alarm about the network of veteran al-Qaeda extremists plotting attacks on the U.S. from Syrian safe havens, but have been wary of even confirming the group’s existence until the past several weeks.
“The United States has also taken action to disrupt the imminent attack plotting against the United States and Western interests conducted by a network of seasoned al-Qa’ida veterans—sometimes referred to as the Khorasan Group—who have established a safe haven in Syria to develop external attacks, construct and test improvised explosive devices and recruit Westerners to conduct operations.” CENTCOM said in the statement. “In total, U.S. Central Command conducted eight strikes against Khorasan Group targets west of Aleppo to include training camps, an explosives and munitions production facility, a communication building and command and control facilities.”