Not quite the traditional fight till you see the whites of their eyes…but the Obama administration declared kinetic military action or expanded counterterrorism operations or in layman’s terms war against jihadis in Syria.
The Pentagon said the overnight airstrikes were the beginnings of a sustained campaign and can be expected to continue into the foreseeable future, however, “…the tempo will be dictated by facts on the ground,” according to Joint Staff Director of Operations, Lt. Gen. William Mayville.
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Last night in a statement released by Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary described the military action in Syria this way. “The decision to conduct these strikes was made earlier today by the U.S. Central Command commander under authorization granted him by the commander in chief. The strikes destroyed or damaged multiple ISIL targets in the vicinity of Ar Raqqah, Dayr az Zawr, Al Hasakah, and Abu Kamal and included ISIL fighters, training compounds, headquarters and command and control facilities, storage facilities, a finance center, supply trucks and armed vehicles.”
Kirby said that all of the U.S. aircraft conducted surgical strikes using precision bombs and safely returned to their bases/aircraft carriers. Surprisingly, the administration also announced that the gulf countries of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain “participated in or supported” the Syrian airstrikes.
The U.S. military aircraft also used dumb bombs and employed Tomahawk cruise missiles to hit the Islamic State (IS) including, command and control facilities, training camps and storage facilities in northern Syria near Raqqa, the presumed headquarters for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights group said bombs hit bases operated by al-Nusra Front in the Aleppo and Idlib providences of Syria.
Acting alone, the U.S. also targeted the al-Qaeda “all-stars” team Khorasan group deploying cruise missiles, to pre-empt the final stages of a terrorist strike against the West. United States Central Command (CENTCOM) said U.S. intelligence communities reported an attack from the group was “imminent” and gave the administration clear authority to strike the group located in the southwest region of Syria under the control of President al-Assad.
According to White House Deputy of national security advisor Ben Rhodes, the president acted on concerns about a direct attack on the homeland by relative newcomers Khorasan. “We believe that the attack planning was imminent…and they had clear ambitions to launch external operations against the U.S.”
Also making news today was a second ISIS video. It’s being reported that British hostage John Cantlie is on tape criticizing the West and said they were “marching towards all-out war in Iraq and Syria.” So far the U.S, media has refrained from posting the propaganda video.
Furthermore, Russian President Vladimir Putin weighed in on the overnight bombings by U.S. and “coalition” forces. During a conversation with UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, Putin cautioned the West and said, “Russia is insistent that the U.S. measures to target militants in Syria lack authority without buy-in from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.” A few hours later the Syrian regime told the Agence France-Presse (AFP) “Syria backs any international effort in (the) fight against jihidists.” It’s also been widely reported that the U.S. gave the Syrian government a “heads up” that attacks were about to happen.
Is this America’s problem?
But should America wage war or is the calamity in the Middle East more of a regional problem? If it’s in America’s national security interests’ then military sources say send the Marines to eradicate the ISIS jihadists.
However, if the fight is regional, sources say Middle East partners should be capable of fighting with the $100’s of billions in U.S. weapons provided to Gulf States the past few years. In fact, 20 coalition forces participated in a joint military exercise called “Eager Lion.” The June operation conducted live-fire and counter attack exercises in preparation for a possible real-world scenario.
Notwithstanding the successful joint military exercise, many of the Gulf nations remained sidelined. One reason for this may be the failed state of Libya where U.S. and French forces bombed the dictator-ruled country into oblivion only to have it fall into chaos because there was no “end state” game plan in place. Also, it appears Yemen is following in Libya’s footsteps. Over the weekend Yemen’s primary opposition group the Houthis, a Shiite Islamic group, are now the ringleaders of Yemen. The brutal civil battles culminated this weekend prompting the new government’s prime minister to resign.
Back in Syria, the Obama administration has not released its end game plan for the embroiled war-torn nation once ISIS and al-Assad are removed from power. Plus many in the military don’t think arming 5,000 doctors and pharmacists also known as the Syrian Free Army, with more U.S. weapons will solve the problem.
Matthew VanDyke, a documentary filmmaker, who spent time with the Syrian Free Army and was a prisoner of war in Libya with recently beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley and Steven Sotloff concurs. He says Obama’s 5,000-soldier number is laughable and the rebels know it. “It’s actually quite ridiculous I’m not sure how the administration came up with number and expect people to believe it! Syrians on the ground are laughing at it, my contacts say they don’t take this seriously,” VanDyke told Fox News.
President Obama addresses the nation again
This morning President Obama addressed the nation before he headed to the United Nations to round up more support for the world’s fight against IS or ISIS/ISIL.
“Last night, on my orders, America’s armed forces began strikes against ISIL targets in Syria. Today, the American people give thanks for the extraordinary service of our men and women in uniform, including the pilots who flew these missions with the courage and professionalism that we’ve come to expect from the finest military that the world has ever known.
Earlier this month, I outlined for the American people our strategy to confront the threat posed by the terrorist group known as ISIL. I made clear that as part of this campaign the United States would take action against targets in both Iraq and Syria so that these terrorists can’t find safe haven anywhere. I also made clear that America would act as part of a broad coalition. And that’s exactly what we’ve done.
We were joined in this action by our friends and partners — Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Bahrain, and Qatar. America is proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with these nations on behalf of our common security.
The strength of this coalition makes it clear to the world that this is not America’s fight alone. Above all, the people and governments in the Middle East are rejecting ISIL and standing up for the peace and security that the people of the region and the world deserve.
Meanwhile, we will move forward with our plans, supported by bipartisan majorities in Congress, to ramp up our effort to train and equip the Syrian opposition, who are the best counterweight to ISIL and the Assad regime. And more broadly, over 40 nations have offered to help in this comprehensive effort to confront this terrorist threat — to take out terrorist targets; to train and equip Iraqi and Syrian opposition fighters who are going up against ISIL on the ground; to cut off ISIL’s financing; to counter its hateful ideology; and to stop the flow of fighters into and out of the region.
Last night, we also took strikes to disrupt plotting against the United States and our allies by seasoned al Qaeda operatives in Syria who are known as the Khorasan Group. And once again, it must be clear to anyone who would plot against America and try to do Americans harm that we will not tolerate safe havens for terrorists who threaten our people.
I’ve spoken to leaders in Congress and I’m pleased that there is bipartisan support for the actions we are taking. America is always stronger when we stand united, and that unity sends a powerful message to the world that we will do what’s necessary to defend our country.
Over the next several days I will have the opportunity to meet with Prime Minister Abadi of Iraq, and with friends and allies at the United Nations to continue building support for the coalition that is confronting this serious threat to our peace and security. The overall effort will take time. There will be challenges ahead. But 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. Watch remarks here.
Finally, the air campaign doesn’t come without consequences. A joint bulletin from the FBI and Homeland Security said the U.S. should be on the look out for lone wolf or revenge attacks. Earlier this week government officials announced as many as 100 U.S. nationals have already returned to American soil after allegedly training with terror organizations.
Author’s note: Congress complains about the usurpation of legislative authority and here Mr. Obama declares war on ISIS and Syria and Congress asks how much do you need Mr. President?
Last story: “National security: ISIS and weapon proliferation” link here.
Read: “The absence of a bold plan for destroying ISIS costs another hostage his life” link here.
Previous story: “ISIS moves with impunity” link here.
Read part one: “Obama trained insurgents launch killing spree against Iraq then turn to Syria” link here.
Read: “Iraq, ISIS and trained Islamic insurgents” (Part Two) link here.
The headlines splashed across most major publications this week centered on the growing destabilization of Iraq. After a decade of war, peace and prosperity remain elusive and the “hearts and minds” COIN policy is officially dead. For the Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds, peace was nothing more than an American dream.
Read: Obama’s Regime change train stops in Ukraine: link here.
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