Arab allies join US to launch air strikes on IS jihadists in Syria
DAMASCUS The United States and Arab allies launched strikes from the air and sea against Islamic State militants in Syria yesterday, opening a new front in the battle against the brutal jihadist group.
The US Central Command said in a statement that Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates had joined Washington in carrying out the strikes.
Using a mix of fighter, bombers, remotely piloted aircraft and Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles the coalition conducted 14 strikes against IS targets in Syria, it said.
The strikes destroyed or damaged multiple targets in the jihadists northern stronghold and near the border with Iraq including IS fighter positions, training compounds, command...
... centres and armed vehicles.
The US-led air assault in Syria marked a turning point in the war against the IS group. Washington had been reluctant to intervene in Syrias raging civil war, but was jolted into action as the jihadists captured more territory and committed widespread atrocities, including the on- camera beheadings of three Western hostages.
Syrias opposition had pleaded for the strikes, especially after a jihadist assault on a strategic Kurdish town in northern Syria over the last week sent tens of thousands of terrified residents fleeing across the border to Turkey.
IS militants have warned the US- led campaign would be met with a harsh response, and an ISlinked Algerian group on Monday threatened to kill a French hostage within 24 hours if Paris did not end its participation in air strikes in Iraq.
In a footage, confirmed by Paris as authentic, the group gave France 24 hours to halt its air strikes in Iraq, saying that it was responding to an IS call to kill Westerners whose nations are among 50 countries that have joined the campaign to battle the jihadist group. But French Prime Minister Manuel Valls told French radio there would be no discussion, no negotiation with the Algerian group and stressed Paris would continue its air strikes.
Washington said the strikes from the sea were carried put from US warships operating in the Red Sea and the Gulf and that 47 Tomahawks were fired.
Fighter jets, bombers and remotely controlled aircraft were used for the air strikes, which the five Arab nations participated in or supported.
All aircraft safely exited the strike areas, it said, adding that four air strikes were also conducted on Monday in neighbouring Iraq, bringing the total number of US raids in that country to 194.
It said eight strikes were also carried out on a group of seasoned Al- Qaeda veterans west of Syrias second city Aleppo to disrupt an imminent attack plotting against the United States and Western interests.
US-led air strikes killed at least 120 jihadists in Syria yesterday, a monitoring group said.
The dead included more than 70 members of the Islamic State (IS) group in the north and east of Syria, as well as 50 al-Qaeda militants, according to the Britainbased Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Eight civilians, among them three children, were killed in US strikes in the west of northern Aleppo province, the Observatory said.
The group said at least 300 people were injured in the strikes, about 100 of whom were in serious condition.