Pentagon: US, partners begin air strikes in Syria
WASHINGTON (AP): The US and five Arab countries launched air strikes Monday night on Islamic State group targets in Syria, expanding a military campaign into a country whose three-year civil war has given the brutal militant group a safe haven.
Using a mix of manned aircraft, fighter jets and bombers, plus Tomahawk cruise missiles, the strikes were part of the expanded military campaign that President Barack Obama authorised nearly two weeks ago in order to disrupt and destroy the Islamic State militants, who have slaughtered thousands of people, beheaded Westerners and captured large swathes of Syria and northern and western Iraq.
US officials said the air strikes began around 8:30 p.m. EDT, and were conducted by the US, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates. The first wave of strikes finished about 90 minutes later, but the operation was expected to continue for several more hours, according to one US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak publicly by name about an ongoing mission.
Syria's Foreign Ministry said the US informed Syria's envoy to the UN that "strikes will be launched against the terrorist Daesh group in Raqqa". The statement used an Arabic name to refer to the Islamic State group.
NOT US FIGHT ALONE
At a conference on September 11 with Secretary of State John Kerry, key Arab allies promised they would "do their share" to fight the Islamic State militants. The Obama administration, which at a NATO meeting in Wales earlier this month also got commitments from European allies as well as Canada and Australia, has insisted that the fight against the Islamic State militants could not be the United States' fight alone.
Because the military operation was ongoing, no details could be provided yet, said Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon's press secretary. He said the military made the decision to strike early Monday. A White House official said Obama was being updated.
The strikes were carried out by manned Air Force and Navy aircraft, and the Tomahawk missiles were launched from US ships in the northern Persian Gulf and the Red Sea. The aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush is in the Gulf.
Activists said the air strikes hit targets in and around the Syrian city of Raqqa and the province with the same name. Raqqa is the Islamic State group's self-declared capital in Syria.