By Sam Feineh
“U.S. military pilots have unleashed airstrikes against ISIL forces in Syria at approximately 8:30 p.m. ET Monday” (NBCnews.com)
Following President Obama’s landmark address to the nation on Sept. 10 and Congress’ subsequent approval to arm and train Syrian rebels to defeat the Islamic State, military airstrikes have bombarded up to 20 targets, including command posts and weapon depots in the self-proclaimed ISIL capital Raqqa.
“I can confirm that U.S. military and partner nation forces are undertaking military action against ISIL terrorists in Syria using a mix of fighter, bomber and Tomahawk Land Attack missiles,” said Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby (ap.org).
“The U.S. military will deploy manned and unmanned air assets, including F-22s, B-1 bombers, F-16s, F-15s and F/A-18s” (NBCnews.com).
The landmark initiative to bomb ISIL targets comes in the wake of violent provocations directed to the U.S. and its allies. In the midst of these threats, the U.S. is seeking to form unlikely coalitions with disparate groups in the Middle East, potentially including the Saudis and UAE to destroy ISIL.
The timing of these attacks provides Mr. Obama a platform to speak upon with the upcoming UN General Assembly in New York. By expediently acting upon the President’s four point plan he noted during his special address to the nation on Sept. 10, the U.S. has demonstrated its commitment to eradicate ISIL‘s influence from the Middle East.
Furthermore, at the UN Assembly, Mr. Obama will attempt to rally more support in the effort to aggressively attack ISIL. Senior officials have yet to designate more information about the strikes; however the airstrikes’ success/failure results will play a key factor in enlisting other countries’ support to attack ISIL.
These strikes took place just a day after more than 130,000 Syrians, primarily Kurds, fled across the border to Turkey to escape the Islamic State militants.
More refugees could cross the border in the coming days despite the increased pressure on Turkey’s infrastructure. Temporary refugee camps could overflow soon due to the large influx of Kurdish Syrians.
“We Kurds do that made nobody help us, and no country cares. They attacked us, killing our people, our livestock, and burning our homes,” said Nesero, a Kurdish refugee (bbc.com).
With war surging in the Kurdish city of Kobani, the West has little time to react. In an interview with MSNBC television Monday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the strength of Islamic State finances and the size of the area under its control make it a more dangerous threat than al-Qaida (voanews.com).
Thus, the Obama administration is determined to eliminate the potential threat from reaching the U.S. as swiftly as possible.
“This is not American’s fight alone.”
In a Presidential statement given on Tuesday at 10 a.m. ET, Mr. Obama announced that the fight against ISIL is not a solo effort. The U.S. will form a coalition with the 5 Arab partners: Jordan, Bahrain, UAE, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia to participate in the operation
The President also revealed that ISIL was not the only intended target in last night’s airstrikes. The Khorasan group, part of an al-Qaida terrorist cell, was also bombarded last night. Khorasan is an archaic term for an Islamic empire, ruled by a caliph.
The group was actively plotting against a U.S. homeland target and Western targets. The United States aimed to surprise the cell by infusing strikes against ISIL along with strikes against Khorasan (cnn.com).
All this comes just hours prior to the President’s arrival at the UN General Assembly.