US Begins Air Strikes in Syria
A year after President Obama drew a red line over the use of chemical weapons, the U.S. military conducts air strikes in Syria. By Stephanie Gaskell
This article has been updated.
The U.S. military is conducting air strikes in Syria.
"I can confirm that U.S. military and partner nation forces are undertaking military action against ISIL terrorists in Syria using a mix of fighter, bomber and Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles,” Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said late Monday.
The attacks were targeted around Raqqa, Syria, a major base of operations for the Islamic State (aka ISIS or ISIL), located 100 miles east of Alleppo. They come nearly two weeks after President Barack Obama outlined his strategy to “degrade and destroy” the Islamic State in Iraq and in Syria in a televised primetime address.
“Given that these operations are ongoing, we are not in a position to provide additional details at this time," Kirby said. "The decision to conduct theses strikes was made earlier today by the U.S. Central Command commander under authorization granted him by the commander in chief. We will provide more details later as operationally appropriate.”
Military officials later announced that five Arab states helped with the airstrikes: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates "using a mix of fighter, bomber, remotely piloted aircraft and Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles to conduct 14 strikes against ISIL targets," according to a statement from U.S. Central Command.
"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."
The U.S. military said it "employed 47 TLAMs launched from USS Arleigh Burke and USS Philippine Sea operating from international waters in 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 air strikes come a year after Obama drew a "red line" warning consequences if Syria used chemical weapons against its own people, but backed down after the British Parliament and the U.S. Congress showed little support for attacking the Assad regime. More than 191,000 people have died in the three-year civil war, which has spilled into Iraq, according to the United Nations.
“I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are. That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq. This is a core principle of my presidency: if you threaten America, you will find no safe haven,” Obama said.
CENTCOM officials said U.S. airstrikes also hit al-Qaeda fighters known as the Khorasan Group.
The U.S. military has conducted 190 airstrikes in Iraq since Aug. 8.
--Kedar Pavgi contributed to this report.