THE Pentagon has confirmed that US and ‘partner nation forces’ have started bombing raids against Isil in Syria.
ilitary sources said that the attacks were part of what will be a persistant wave to take out Isil.
Lt. Gen. William Mayville said the attacks hit key Isil training camps and facilities. But he said it was too early to tell if they were able to disrupt a terrorist attack being planned by al-Qa’ida militants, known as the Khorasan Group. He said the group was “nearing the execution phase” of an attack against Europe or the U.S.
Yesterday President Barack Obama said that Arab support for the airstrikes “makes it clear to the world this is not America’s fight alone.”
“We’re going to do what’s necessary to take the fight to this terrorist group, for the security of the country and the region and for the entire world,” Mr Obama said as he left Washington for meetings of the U.N. General Assembly in New York.
Last night the United States told the United Nations it led the attacks against Isil because President Bashar al-Assad’s government had failed to wipe out safe havens used by the group to launch attacks on Iraq.
In a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power wrote: “The Syrian regime has shown that it cannot and will not confront these safe havens effectively itself.”
The strikes were needed to eliminate a threat to Iraq, the United States and its allies, she wrote, citing Article 51 of the U.N. Charter, which covers an individual or collective right to self-defense against armed attack.
“States must be able to defend themselves ... when, as is the case here, the government of the state where the threat is located is unwilling or unable to prevent the use of its territory for such attacks,” Ms Power, who was born in Dublin, wrote.
“Accordingly, the United States has initiated necessary and proportionate military actions in Syria in order to eliminate the ongoing (Islamic State) threat to Iraq,” she wrote, adding that action was taken also against al Qa’ida elements in Syria known as Khorasan “to address terrorist threats that they pose to the United States and our partners and allies.”
Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the top American military official, said the US and its Arab allies achieved their aim of showing the extremists that their attacks will not go unanswered.
Gen. Mayville, director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at the Pentagon that the U.S. carried out the vast majority of the strikes in an operation against Isil that he said would continue and likely last “in terms of years.” But he declined to provide details on what the Arab nations did. He said the strikes included Islamic State militants’ financial centers in order to disrupt the well-funded group’s activities.
“We will be prepared to strike ISIL targets in Syria that degrade Isil’s capabilities,” General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a US senate hearing last week, adding the attacks would be “persistent and sustainable”.
Chuck Hagel, the US defence secretary, had said that the plan included targeted actions against Isil safe havens in Syria, including its “command and control logistics capabilities and infrastructure.” Until now US and French strikes have been confined to Iraq and limited to hitting a relatively small number of specific targets, however officials last night said that the attack on Raqqa represented a qualitative shift towards a sustained bombardment designed to degrade Isil capabilities in the area.
Raqqa has become the informal capital of the Isil’s self-proclaimed caliphate and is in the region where several foreign hostages, including two US journalists and the British aid worker David Haines, were held before they were beheaded in gruesome circumstances earlier this month. US generals have said about two-thirds of the estimated 31,000-strong Islamic State fighting force were based in Syria where the US has been flying intelligence gathering missions for some weeks now, building up a growing target list.
The president got swift bipartisan backing from Congress. Republican House Speaker John Boehner called the airstrikes “just one step in what must be a larger effort to destroy and defeat” the Islamic State group. Sen. Carl Levin, the Democrat who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the Arab partners’ involvement was “especially significant.” (Daily Telegraph)