U.S. Airstrikes Against ISIS Expand to Syria
A new front has opened in the U.S. offensive against the Islamic State.
UPDATE: President Obama announced the beginning of U.S.-led airstrikes in Syria as part of his expanding military campaign against the Islamic State.
In brief remarks outside the White House, the president said he ordered the strikes in conjunction with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Jordan and Qatar.
"The strength of this coalition makes it clear to the world that this is not America’s fight alone," Obama said.
The president did not take questions before boarding a helicopter for New York, where he is scheduled to address the United Nations on Tuesday afternoon.
Senior administration officials, briefing reporters later on the condition of anonymity, said the 14 strikes in Syria were successful in hitting an ISIS finance center and headquarters building, among other targets. The strikes were aimed at facilities rather than ISIS leadership, they said.
"We know we hit what we were aiming at," one senior administration official said.
U.S. Central Command posted videos of the strikes on YouTube, including the one below:
ORIGINAL: The Pentagon confirmed this evening that the United States has begun airstrikes against ISIS within Syria, opening up a second front in the U.S.-led offensive against the Islamic State.
After a flurry of rumors, the Pentagon confirmed the news this evening. In a statement to the press, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said:
I can confirm that U.S. military and partner nation forces are undertaking military action against ISIL [ISIS] terrorists in Syria using a mix of fighter, bomber and Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles. 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 U.S. Central Command commander under authorization granted him by the commander in chief. We will provide more details later as operationally appropriate.
Kirby backed this up by posting to Twitter:
US military & partner nation forces have begun striking ISIL targets in Syria using mix of fighters, bombers and Tomahawk missiles.— Rear Adm. John Kirby (@PentagonPresSec) September 23, 2014
In his address to the nation on September 10th, President Obama left the option open as to using U.S. air forces against the Islamic State within Syria:
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.
The coordinated airstrikes, per the Wall Street Journal, are being carried out both near the Iraqi-Syrian border, as well as deeper within Syria, including the city of Raqqa, seen by many as the headquarters for the Islamic State.
According to the Washington Post, Kirby confirmed that “partner nation forces” are involved in some manner in the attacks, but declined to specify which nations besides the United States took part. According to two Defense Department sources speaking to the Post, the countries are Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain.
It appears a Twitter user Abdulkader Hariri (@3bdUlkaed6r) may have been the first to publish news of the airstrikes:
Breaking: Huge explosions shook the city in what might be the beginning of US airstrikes on ISIS HQs in Raqqa— Abdulkader Hariri (@3bdUlkaed6r) September 23, 2014
The airstrikes 5/6 concentrated near the 'governorate building' ISIS's main HQ. Meanwhile, sounds of warplanes can be heard clearly— Abdulkader Hariri (@3bdUlkaed6r) September 23, 2014
Reports of similar airstrikes on Tabga town and brigade 93 in Ein Essa.— Abdulkader Hariri (@3bdUlkaed6r) September 23, 2014
The sky is full drones over Raqqa now— Abdulkader Hariri (@3bdUlkaed6r) September 23, 2014