Arab jets played ‘leading’ role in raids on ISIS

Saudi Arabian air force pilots sit in the cockpit of a fighter jet at an undisclosed location on September 23, 2014.

Saudi Arabian air force pilots sit in the cockpit of a fighter jet at an undisclosed location on September 23, 2014.

The Pentagon said Thursday that fighter jets from Arab states, especially from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, played the leading role in the latest round of air strikes in Syria against ISIS jihadists.

Ten warplanes from the two Arab states flew with six U.S. aircraft in Wednesday’s raids on oil refineries held by the ISIS and 80 percent of the bomb tonnage delivered by the Saudi and UAE planes, spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters.

The strikes against 12 targets hit the majority of ISIS-held refineries but the extremist group still controlled several other refineries as well, Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters.

Kirby pointed to the group’s continued access to financing, volunteers and weapons even after the bombings in Syria and Iraq, saying it is too early to say the U.S.-led coalition was “winning.”

“Your question gets at … How do you know you’re winning? And what I’m telling you is, it’s going to take us a while to be able to say that,” Kirby said.

“Even after the hits they’ve taken and they have been hit they still have financing at their fingertips. They still have plenty of volunteers. They still have plenty of weapons and vehicles and the ability to move around,” he added.

He said the Pentagon will investigate reports that civilians were killed the air strikes, but insisted the raids were carried out with precision.

“We don’t have credible operational reports” that civilians were killed in three days of air strikes, he said.

But “we are taking a look at that,” Kirby added, describing the media reports and video as “allegations.”

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