These air-strikes on September 23 are the first against the IS in Syria and considered as a major turning point in the global campaign against the militant group. Reportedly, at least 70 of IS and Al-Qaeda militants were killed in the recent raids.
Supported by Arab countries that include Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the cruise missiles and precision-guided bombs struck the city of Raqqa, believed to be the de facto capital of the militant group.
Commenting on this onslaught to nullify the venture of IS, US President Barak Obama said, “Because of the almost unprecedented effort of this coalition, I think we now have an opportunity to send a very clear message that the world is united.” It has been reckoned that the support of the Arab states, particularly Sunni states, adds legitimacy to the campaign against the group.
Unlike previous US efforts in the region, it has managed to garner wide-ranging support from countries like Saudi Arabia, which have stepped up frontline efforts against the group. Simultaneously, another Sunni majority state Turkey has vowed to aid the coalition.
The US led coalition has been reinforced by over 50 nations. In this action, the US and the UK will lead efforts to recruit more members for the fight against the IS threat, an issue that would come up before the UN General Assembly, commencing on September 25.
“It must be clear to anyone who would plot against America and try to do Americans harm that we will not tolerate safe havens for terrorists who threaten our people,” added Obama.
It was learnt that the targets in this air raid included weapons supplies, depots, barracks and buildings the militants use for command and control. US Navy ships in the region also unleashed a torrent of Tomahawk cruise missiles aimed at these echelons.
Earlier on September 10, in a speech US President Barak Obama had underlined the objective of this operation. He had asserted that this campaign was to ‘degrade and ultimately destroy’ the IS and even termed ‘eradicating a cancer’ like the IS as a long-term challenge, and that the rest of the world needs to step up efforts as well.
The IS had captured large swathes of Iraq and Syria in June and declared these regions as ‘Caliphate’ under its control. Known for its brutality, it has actively persecuted non-Muslims such as Yazidis and Christians. Reports from the CIA suggest that the IS has over 30,00 fighters and a very active social media presence to echo its cause.
The air-strikes into Syria were also cheered on by Syrian President Basar al Assad. Although Obama had made it clear that he will not work with Assad and his forces, the latter responded to say, “Any international effort to fight against terrorism.”
Despite direct coordination between the Syrian forces and the coalition, experts have opined that Syrian government is engaged in indirect and tacit coordination via the Iraqi government.