President Obama spoke today about the airstrikes, which targeted Aleppo, Raqqa and areas of Eastern Syria. The President declared: “We’re going to do what is necessary to take the fight to this terrorist group.” These were the first strikes since Obama stated his willingness to expand US operations against ISIS outside Iraq a month ago.
Obama was keen to stress the involvement of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain in the operation. “America is proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with these nations on behalf of our common security,” he said. “The strength of this coalition makes clear to the world that this is not just America’s fight alone.”
Protecting US and Western interests from the ISIS
Installations around Aleppo were attacked to prevent what Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said was an “imminent attack plotting against the United States and Western interests” by a network of al-Qaida veterans “with significant explosives skills.”
Those planning the attack on US interests have been named as the Khorasan Group, with the President assuring listeners that there would be “no safe haven” for the Al Qaeda linked group.
A decisive response
After a long period of sweeping gains, ISIS has found itself the focus of greater international attention. The strikes targeted facilities in Syria that ISIS has used to support its advance into neighboring Iraq.
Lt. General William Mayville, director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that the strikes were the beginning of a “credible and sustainable” campaign to wipe out ISIS. The strikes were far more intense than previous strikes undertaken in Iraq, underlining the commitment of the international coalition to destroying militant groups in the region.
The precision strikes were carried out against highly specific targets in a bid to limit collateral damage. Officials exhibited before and after photos of the destroyed targets.
This is by no means the end of the conflict in the region, and Reuters cited an unidentified ISIS fighter as saying “these attacks will be answered.”