On Tuesday, September 23, announcements of U.S. airstrikes on Islamic State, or ISIS, located in Syria were reported occurring for the first time since President Obama addressed the matter, earlier this month. The Los Angeles Times reported the White House had ordered airstrikes to take place in eastern Syria after five Arab government officials agreed to back U.S. effort in destroying top ISIS locations. The first Arab government official, whose information was undisclosed, was reported to have agreed to launch attacks “within the last 72 hours” of the first airstrike. The other four had agreed to participate within the same time frame.
David S. Cloud of the Los Angeles Times stated the White House had waited to approve the airstrikes until other Arab leaders agreed to join the mission and target key ISIS locations in Syria. Support coming from other Sunni regimes to combat extremist militants shows a common goal to rid “terrorists” wreaking havoc on parts of Syria and Iraq and towards those who are willing to commit any plotted terrorist act.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Jordan, and Qatar have joined forces with the U.S. in hopes of preventing attacks from ISIS supporters who may also be attempting to strike these territories. In fact, Peter Baker of the New York Times reported U.S. officials had stated ISIS could have been plotting recent terrorist attacks against parts of either the U.S. or Europe. Thus, officials had targeted a group known as “Khorasan,” who is an ally to Nusra Front – a group reportedly affiliated with Al Qaeda in Syria.
Baker stated the attack was mostly conducted by American forces and without approval from Damascus. Although President Bashar al-Assad has expressed Damacus be made aware of any attack made within Syria airspace, Baker reported the Syrian Ambassador of the United Nations was made aware of operations which would take place in parts of Syria, including in Raqqa where ISIS headquarters are believed to be stationed.
Two men of Khorasan are believed to have been targeted and killed in the U.S. airstrikes against ISIS in Syria, which has occurred for the first time since hostage videos were recently released threatening the U.S. and U.K. The names of these men are Muhsin al-Fadhli, a leader and possible associate of Bin Laden, and Abu Yusef al-Turki, another group leader. These men and their group are believed to have been behind possible terrorist attack plots which caused airline security to check for uncharged devices in the past. According to Baker, several officials had also stated the group may have been recently plotting to lace nonmetal objects with “explosive material.”
CNN reported about 20 targets in Syria had been struck, particularly near Raqqa. Power was reported going out on Tuesday, Sept. 23, but was turned on shortly afterward. No reports of casualties were confirmed, only from what was described on social media sites monitored by SITE Intelligence Group. U.S. airstrikes in Syria occurring on ISIS for the first time since recent threats were made is a “new level” of engagement, and as Delta Force officer James Reese is reported as saying, “the punch in the nose to the bully.”
By Liz Pimentel
See also Guardian Liberty Voice