ISIS infrastructure damaged in first Syria strikes
Airstrikes carried out by the United States and its Arab allies bombed training camps belonging to militant groups in Syria for the first time on Tuesday, U.S. officials were quoted as saying, reportedly killing scores of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters.
The U.S.-led attacks on militant positions have also disrupted ISIS infrastructure, a report by the Wall Street Journal quoted Pentagon officials as saying.
The officials did not provide estimates of casualties, but local residents have reportedly said many were killed in the attacks, including civilians.
The WSJ report also said the airstrikes “unleashed more than 160 missiles and bombs on targets inside Syria” belonging to ISIS and another al-Qaeda affiliated group Khorasan.
U.S. officials stated that the anti-ISIS campaign will continue over the coming days.
“I can tell you that last night’s strikes were only the beginning,” said Rear Adm. John Kirby, a U.S. Defense Department spokesman. He called the overnight attacks “very successful” but gave few other details.
The U.S.-led coalition launched 16 airstrikes on ISIS positions across Syria, CENTCOM said in a statement later on Tuesday.
Washington also said U.S. forces had acted alone to launch eight strikes in northeastern Syria on the Khorasan group.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the war in Syria, said at least 70 ISIS fighters were killed in strikes that hit at least 50 targets in the provinces of Raqqa, Deir Azzor and Hasakah.
The air attacks fulfill U.S. President Barack Obama’s pledge to strike in Syria against ISIS, a group that has seized swathes of Syria and Iraq, slaughtering prisoners and reportedly ordering Shiites and non-Muslims to convert or die.
The attacks encountered no objection, and even signs of tacit approval, from President Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian government, which said Washington had warned Damascus in advance.
It remains to be seen how effective air strikes can be in Syria, where Washington lacks a strong ally to fight the group on the ground. The militants vowed reprisals, and an allied group is threatening to kill a French hostage captured in Algeria.
In Washington, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI said they had alerted law enforcement agencies to a threat from Syrian-based al Qaeda operatives “nearing the execution phase for an attack in Europe or the homeland.”