Thursday, September 25, 2014

Syria: First Wave of Strikes and What was Targeted

An F/A-18C Hornet prepares to help carry out 
airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria  
from the USS George H.W. Bush, stationed in the 
Persian Gulf 
The first U.S.-led airstrikes on extremist groups in Syria hit militant leaders, training camps and control centers, U.S. officials said, promising this was only the start of a long campaign.
The attacks were conducted with the aid of Arab allies, but the U.S. carried out the bulk of the raids. After the first wave of strikes, the U.S. said it conducted follow-on attacks during the day Tuesday that hit two Islamic State armored vehicles in Syria.
The U.S. and its allies unleashed more than 160 missiles and bombs on targets inside Syria, disrupting infrastructure used by the extremist groups Islamic State and al Qaeda-linked Khorasan, Pentagon officials said in the first assessments of the impact of the strikes.
The contrail of a Tomahawk cruise missile 
is seen after it was launched Tuesday from the 
guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea.
While it will be days before a definitive conclusion can be drawn, U.S. officials said they believe some leaders of both Islamic State and Khorasan were likely killed in the strikes on training camps and headquarters buildings.
The expansion of the military campaign against Islamic State from Iraq to Syria carries significant risks for President Barack Obama's administration.
Before and after photos of an Islamic State 
command-and-control center
Mr. Obama has spent his presidency extricating the U.S. from two long and costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now there is the prospect of getting mired again in a protracted Middle East war.
Western-backed rebels fear U.S.-led airstrikes on Islamic State and other extremist groups inside Syria will ultimately tip the balance in the multi-sided civil war in favor of the Syrian regime that Washington opposes.
Also, Islamic State made a new threat against a Western hostage. The family of British captive Alan Henning, an aid-convoy volunteer being held by the group, said on Tuesday that they had received an audio recording of the prisoner pleading for his life.
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