Early Tuesday, the United States and Arab allies launched airstrikes against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria, signaling the first U.S. offensive since President Obama considered authorizing an expansion of the military campaign against the militant group.
Overnight, the U.S. also took action against the Khorasan Group, a terrorist organization that presented an “imminent” threat to the West, as told by CNN from a senior U.S. official.
From the New York Times:
American fighter jets and armed Predator and Reaper drones, flying alongside warplanes from several Arab allies, struck a broad array of targets in territory controlled by the militants, known as the Islamic State. American defense officials said the targets included weapons supplies, depots, barracks and buildings the militants use for command and control. Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired from United States Navy ships in the region.
Until now, the administration had bombed Islamic State targets only in Iraq, and had suggested it would be weeks if not months before the start of a bombing campaign against Islamic State targets in Syria.
Unlike American strikes in Iraq over the past month, which have been small-bore bombings of mostly individual Islamic State targets — patrol boats and trucks — the salvo on Tuesday in Syria was the beginning of what was expected to be a sustained, hourslong bombardment at targets in the militant headquarters in Raqqa and on the border.
Arab nations involved included Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. The United Arab Emirates also took part in the strike.
The new coalition’s makeup is significant because the United States was able to recruit Sunni governments to take action against the Sunni militants of the Islamic State. The operation also unites the squabbling states of the Persian Gulf.
The Syrian regime was notified about the U.S. actions, but the bombings went on without approval of President Bashar al-Assad.
On state-run media, Syria said its U.N. representative was informed Monday that the U.S. and some of its allies would target ISIS. Syria also said its foreign minister, Walid al-Moallem, “received a letter from his American counterpart delivered by the Iraqi foreign minister which informed him that ‘the U.S. will target the positions of the ISIS terrorist organization, some of which are in Syria.'”
President Obama is expected to make a statement Tuesday morning regarding the airstrikes. We’ll keep you updated with the latest.