The United States and “partner nation forces” have expanded airstrikes against the Islamic State into Syria, broadening the war with the jihadist group beyond Iraq.
US military officials involved in the operation told The Long War Journal that the strike package includes US B-1 bombers, carrier-based F/A-18 fighters and ground-based F-15s and F-16s, and cruise missiles launched from warships.
Airstrikes targeted Islamic State command and control centers in Raqqah, the jihadist group’s de facto capital in Raqqah province in eastern Syria, as well as arms caches, supply depots, and ground units near the Iraqi border.
Read Admiral James Kirby, the Pentagon’s spokesman, confirmed that airstrikes have begun.
“I can confirm that US military and partner nation forces are undertaking military action against ISIL [Islamic State] terrorists in Syria using a mix of fighter, bomber and Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles,” Kirby said in a statement obtained by The Long War Journal. The “partner nation forces” have not yet been identified.
“Given that these operations are ongoing, we are not in a position to provide additional details at this time,” Kirby continued. “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.”
President Barrack Obama stated 13 days ago that the US air campaign against the Islamic State, which began in northern Iraq on Aug. 7, would be expanded into Syria. US and French warplanes are now operating in Irbil, Sinjar, Kirkuk, the Mosul and Haditha dams, southwest of Baghdad (likely in Jurf al Sakhar in northern Babil), and somewhere on the Euphrates River.
It is unclear if the US will target the Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria, the Khorasan group, a council of al Qaeda leaders that coordinates the activities of jihadist groups in Syria and has plotted to attack the West, and other jihadist groups in Syria will also be targeted. The Al Nusrah Front and other jihadist groups, which are at odds with the Islamic State, are poised to gain from any setbacks to the rival Islamic State.
The Islamic State has threatened to retaliate agains the US and other Western countries that participate in military action against the jihadist group. Just yesterday, Abu Muhammad al Adnani, the spokesman for the Islamic State, called for Muslims in western countries to wage jihad. [See Threat Matrix report, Islamic State spokesman again threatens West in new speech.]