Airstrikes in Syria and Iraq are just the start

The Covington News - - THE WIRE -

WASH­ING­TON (AP) — The onetwo-three punch of Amer­i­can and Arab airstrikes against Is­lamic State mil­i­tants in Syria and Iraq was just the be­gin­ning, Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and other lead­ers de­clared Tues­day. They promised a sus­tained cam­paign show­cas­ing a rare U.S.-Arab part­ner­ship aimed at Mus­lim ex­trem­ists.

At the same time, in fresh ev­i­dence of how the ter­ror­ist threat con­tin­ues to ex­pand and mu­tate, the U.S. on its own struck a new al-Qaida cell that the Pen­tagon said was “near­ing the ex­e­cu­tion phase” of a di­rect at­tack on the U.S. or Europe.

“This is not Amer­ica’s fight alone,” Obama said of the mil­i­tary cam­paign against the Is­lamic State group. “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.”

Obama said the U.S. was “proud to stand shoul­der-to-shoul­der” with Arab part­ners, and he called the roll: Saudi Ara­bia, the United Arab Emi­rates, Jor­dan, Bahrain and Qatar. Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pen­tagon’s press sec­re­tary, said four of the five had par­tic­i­pated in the strikes, with Qatar play­ing a sup­port­ing role.

U.S. Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry said Turkey, too, is join­ing the coali­tion against the Is­lamic State group and “will be very en­gaged on the front lines of this ef­fort.” Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan, in New York for U.N. meet­ings, said he was con­sid­er­ing ex­pand­ing support of NATO op­er­a­tions against the Is­lamic State to in­clude mil­i­tary in­volve­ment.

In all, Kerry said, more than 50 na­tions are al­lied in the fight.

It was a mea­sure of the grav­ity of the threat and the com­plex pol­i­tics of the prob­lem that Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad gave an in­di­rect nod of ap­proval to the airstrikes in his own coun­try, say­ing he sup­ported “any in­ter­na­tional anti-ter­ror­ism ef­fort.” There has been con­cern among U.S. of­fi­cials that any strikes against mil­i­tants fight­ing As­sad could be seen as in­ad­ver­tently help­ing the leader whom Obama wants to see ousted from power.

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