US Launches First Attacks Against IS In Syria

The US and five Arab countries have begun airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria.

The strikes were launched using a mix of fighters, bombers, drones and Tomahawk missiles and form part of the expanded military campaign authorised by Barack Obama two weeks ago.

“I can confirm that US 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 press spokesman Read Admiral John Kirby said in a statement.

“Given that these operations are ongoing, we are not in a position to provide additional details at this time.

“The decision to conduct theses strikes was made earlier today by the US Central Command commander under authorisation granted him by the commander in chief. We will provide more details later as operationally appropriate.”

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 HW Bush is in the Gulf.

Some of the airstrikes were against Islamic State group headquarters in Raqqa in eastern 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.

US officials say around 20 targets inside Syria are expected to be hit, including command and control centres, training camps and weapons depots, and that F-18fighters are flying missions from the USS George HW Bush in the Persian Gulf.

The US has also been increasing its surveillance flights over Syria, getting better intelligence on potential targets and militant movements.

Military leaders have said about two-thirds of the estimated 31,000 Islamic State militants are in Syria.

The strikes follow a summit of world leaders in Paris where agreement was reached toform a broad coalition to counter the threat by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and to provide military aid to Iraq to fight the extremist network.

International efforts to combat the group, who have grabbed large swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq, have taken on an added urgency after the beheading of two US journalists and British aid worker David Haines, and the threat to kill UK hostage Alan Henning.

Sky’s US correspondent Dominic Waghorn said: “In the sovereign airspace and territory of another nation, it is particular surprising.

“The information we have from officials speaking on condition of anonymity, is that there will be US missiles and fighter jets working with air forces in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Jordan and other Gulf states.

“This military coalition is very important for American who do not want to be seen as going ahead on their own.”

The US action comes four days after France destroyed an Islamic State logistics depot in its first airstrikes against the militant group in Iraq.

President Francois Hollande said Rafale fighter jets, accompanied by support planes, “entirely destroyed” the depot in the north of the country.

Earlier a kidnapped Frenchman appeared in a video posted online, saying he is being held by an Algeria-based Islamic State splinter group.

In the footage, a spokesman for the group – which calls itself Jund al-Khilafah, or Caliphate Soldiers – threatens to kill the man unless France ends its military operation against Islamic State in Iraq.

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23 September 2014 | 3:30 am – Source: orange.co.uk

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