ILNA: The U. S. and five Arab countries launched airstrikes Monday night on ISIL terrorists targets in Syria, expanding a military campaign into a country whose three - year civil war has given the brutal militant group a safe haven; Associated Press reported.
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 authorized nearly two weeks ago in order to disrupt and destroy the ISIL terrorists, who have slaughtered thousands of people, beheaded Westerners — including two American journalists — and captured large swaths of Syria and northern and western Iraq.
U. S. officials said the airstrikes began around ۸:۳۰ p. m. EDT, and were conducted by the U. S., Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates. The first wave of strikes finished about ۹۰ minutes later, but the operation was expected to continue for several more hours, according to one U. S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly by name about an ongoing mission.
Syria’s Foreign Ministry said the U. S. informed Syria’s envoy to the U. N. that " strikes will be launched against the terrorist Daesh group in Raqqa. " The statement used an Arabic name to refer to the ISIL terrorists group.
At a conference on Sept. ۱۱ with Secretary of State John Kerry, key Arab allies promised they would " do their share " to fight the ISIL. 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 ISIL terrorists could not be the United States’ fight alone.
Because the military operation was ongoing, no details could be provided yet, said Rear Adm. 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 U. S. ships in the northern Persian Gulf and the Red Sea. The aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush is in the Gulf.
Some of the airstrikes were against ISIL group’s self - declared capital in Raqqa in northeastern Syria. Military officials have said the U. S. would target militants’ command and control centers, re - supply facilities, training camps and other key logistical sites.
Syrian activists reported several airstrikes on militant targets in Raqqa. One Raqqa - based activist, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the airstrikes lit the night sky over the city, and reported a power cut that lasted for two hours.
The head of the main Western - backed Syrian opposition group, Hadi Bahra, welcomed the commencement of airstrikes in Syria.
Syria says the US had informed Damascus before carrying out airstrikes against the Takfiri ISIL militants’ positions inside the Arab country.
According to Syrian state media, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement released early on Tuesday that Washington informed Syria’s permanent envoy to the United Nations that strikes would be launched against the ISIL terrorists in the province of Raqqa.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem in late August had warned Washington against carrying out airstrikes on the Takfiri ISIL terrorists in Syria without Damascus’ consent.
Expressing Syria’s readiness to cooperate with the international community to confront terrorism, he underlined that any such attacks without the approval of the Syrian government would be considered as a violation of his country’s sovereignty and an act of aggression.
The ISIL terrorists, some of whom have been trained by the US in Jordan and Turkey to destabilize the Syrian government, control Raqqa and sections of Aleppo in the north and Hasakeh in the northeast as well as most of Deir Ezzor in the east.
The terror group sent back its militants into Iraq in June, quickly seizing vast expanse of land straddling the border between the two countries.
The ISIL terrorists are notorious for carrying out horrific acts of violence, including public decapitations and crucifixions.