What a DAY !!

US launches air strikes against Isil in Syria – live – Telegraph.

Follow live updates as US and Arab partners launch fresh offensive against the Islamic State, striking targets in Syria for the first time

The guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea launches a Tomahawk cruise missile against Islamic State targets

The guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea launches a Tomahawk cruise missile against Islamic State targets in Syria Photo: EPA/US Navy

15.26 There are three main takeaways from Barack Obama’s short statement on last night’s strikes against Isil targets in Syria, writes US Editor Peter Foster:

He took ownership for the strikes which happened “on my orders” even as he emphasised the role of the coalition, actually naming the Arab allies involved, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Jordan, Bahrain and Qatar.

He conceded, after weeks of downplaying the threat to the homeland from Isil, that the Al Qaeda off-shoot, the Khorasan group did pose a threat and were struck accordingly.

And he warned the US public that these strikes were were only beginning, that there were challenges ahead and that the long term strategy – which includes training up a moderate Syrian rebel force in camps in Saudi Arabia – would “take time” to implement.

15.20 A full transcript of Mr Obama’s (short) speech will follow. He began:

Quote Last night on my orders America’s armed forces began strikes against Isil targets in Syria. Today, the American people gives thanks for the extraordinary service of our men and women in uniform.

He also discussed the coalition partners which took part in the strikes:

Quote We were joined in this action by our friends and partners: Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Bahrain and Qatar. America is proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with these nations on behalf of our common security. The strength of this coalition makes it clear to the world that this is not America’s fight alone.

15.13 President Obama has begun his speech on the air strikes against Isil.

15:06 Frank Gardner, BBC security correspondent, writes:

Quote A Gulf Arab official has told me that four of the five Arab countries mentioned took an active part in the air strikes on IS positions in Syria.

Saudi Arabia flew Tornadoes, and possibly Typhoons, from bases in northern Saudi Arabia and Jordan

The United Arab Emirates flew fighters

Bahrain flew three fighters

Qatar did not launch fighters but hosts a US CentCom forward base in the Gulf

Jordan flew fighters

14.48 Secretary John Kerry did not send a letter to the Syrian regime, as previously reported (see 10:30am post) but the US did give advance notification that it was preparing to launch strikes in Syrian territory, according to the US State Department. The notification was given by Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the UN, to her Syrian counterpart.

The statement reads:

Quote The President made clear in his speech to the nation on September 10 that the United States would not hesitate to take direct action against Isil and terrorists inside Syria who were threatening the United States. Since that speech, we informed the Syrian regime directly of our intent to take action through our Ambassador to the United Nations (Ambassador Power) to the Syrian Permanent Representative to the United Nations.

We warned Syria not to engage US aircraft. We did not request the regime’s permission. We did not coordinate our actions with the Syrian government. We did not provide advance notification to the Syrians at a military level, or give any indication of our timing on specific targets. Secretary Kerry did not send a letter to the Syrian regime.

14:34 A coalition of 40 international human rights and humanitarian organisations, including the Save the Children, the Church of England, Amnesty International, and Islamic Relief, have urged world leaders to prioritise the protection of Syrian civilians as part of any further intervention in the Middle East.

David Miliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, a member of the WithSyria coalition, said:

Quote We need world leaders this week to set out how they will fulfil their promise of February, and work together to end attacks on civilians and ensure people get the aid they need. The world must not turn its back on the people of Syria who have been attacked both indiscriminately and directly for more than three years

UN Resolution 2139, passed in February, called for an end to indiscriminate attacks by all sides on civilians in Syria.

14.11 Bahrain has confirmed its warplanes joined those of other Gulf monarchies in bombing jihadist positions as part of a US-led coalition against extremists in Syria and Iraq, reports AFP.

“A formation of Bahrain Royal Air Force aircraft, joining brotherly air forces from the Gulf Cooperation Council and other friendly and allied forces… bombed and destroyed” jihadist positions, a defence official said.

The move comes as “part of international efforts to protect regional security and peace”, said the official, quoted by the state news agency BNA.

14:04 Jon Williams, ABC foreign editor, reports Iran President Rouhani says US-led airstrikes have “no legal standing” without UN Security Council approval or consent of Syria:

14:00 Syrian citizens check a damaged house they say was targeted by the coalition airstrikes in the village of Kfar Derian, a base for the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, a rival of the Islamic State group, between the northern province of Aleppo and Idlib, Syria . Source: AP

13:56 US-led air strikes killed at least 120 jihadists in Syria on Tuesday, 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 Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

13:46 Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary, said Britain backed the bombing campaign, writes Ben Farmer. Speaking after talks with Gulf states including Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, Mr Fallon said:

Quote At the Jeddah and Paris conferences there was strong agreement on the need for a coordinated response to the ISIL threat. In taking action to degrade and destroy ISIL terrorists it is important that key regional partners continue to play a leading role.

The UK supports the airstrikes launched by the US and regional allies last night which runs alongside the action the UK has already taken in the form of of reconnaissance flights, military equipment and humanitarian aid.

The UK Government continues to discuss what further contribution the UK may make to international efforts to tackle the threat we all face from ISIL.

13:20 We are expecting Mr Obama to speak on the Syria air strikes at 10:20am EDT (3:20pm in the UK).

Mr Obama will speak before departing the White House for New York City to attend the UN climate meeting, according to the official, who spoke to Reuters on background ahead of the official announcement.

The US Department of Defense’s joint staff director of operations also will hold a press briefing on the operations in Syria at 11am EDT (4pm in UK), the Pentagon said in a statement.

13:14 US President Barack Obama has used his “reluctant warrior” reputation to his advantage, writes US Editor Peter Foster in Washington:

Barack Obama has justifiably been tagged the reluctant warrior during his six years in office, but last night he used that fact to catch the world – and one suspects the Isil high command – by surprise.

For the last few weeks, all the signals in Washington appeared to point to Mr Obama playing the long game when it came to tackling Isil in Syria.

Officials talked about building up the capabilities of moderate Syria fighters to hold ground taken by air strikes, while the generals warned there was to be no “shock and awe”.

And then without warning and on the eve of the United Nations General Assembly, Mr Obama pulled the trigger, apparently after seeking the quiet assent of both Syria and Russia so long as the strikes were confined to Isil targets.

It was an unexpectedly audacious move from a president who has done everything possible to stay out of the Syrian conflict.

And while it steals a tactical march over the jihadists, it also makes this – for all the efforts to draw in Arab allies – unequivocally “Obama’s war”

13:09 David Blair says shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander’s position on the US-led airstrikes is confusing:

Douglas Alexander, the shadow foreign secretary, says that Labour “understands and supports” America’s air strikes in Syria – but he also wants the Security Council to consider a UN Resolution. This is a confusing position. If Labour backs the air campaign anyway, then why is a new Resolution needed? If Mr Alexander has any legal qualms about the present action in Syria, then why does he “understand and support” it? And if he does have legal doubts, has he noticed that Syria’s own regime has declined to condemn the strikes on its territory? Does he also know of UN Resolution 2170, passed under Chapter VII of the Charter, which “demands” the disarmament of Isil?

12:52 A Downing Street spokesperson has said David Cameron supports the air strikes against Isil. The spokesman said:

Quote The PM supports the latest air strikes against Isil terrorists which have been carried out by the US and five other countries from the Gulf and Middle East.

The PM will be holding talks at the United Nations in New York over the next two days on what more the UK and others can do to contribute to international efforts to tackle the threat we all face from Isil.

The UK is already offering significant military support, including supplying arms to the Kurds as well as surveillance operations by a squadron of Tornadoes and other RAF aircraft.

12:31 Douglas Alexander, the shadow foreign secretary, says Labour wants a resolution on air strikes “brought to the Security Council of the United Nations”. He is not clear, however, whether Labour will make it a requirement of supporting air strikes, writes Steven Swinford.

Mr Alexander said: “ISIL represent a threat not just to regional security in the Middle East but to international security.

“So we understand and support the action taken by the United States and Arab allies in recent hours.

“Both the Prime Minister and the President are due in the United Nations this week so we are now urging a resolution should now be brought to the Security Council of the United Nations.”

12:25 Matthew Henman, head of IHS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Centre, has the following detail on the Khorasan group, which the US said it targeted in separate air strikes overnight “to disrupt the imminent attack plotting against the United States and Western interests” (see 08:33 post). Mr Henman writes:

Quote There are reports this morning that US/allied air strikes in Syria’s Aleppo governorate targeted Jabhat al-Nusra, and more specifically “Khorasan” militants fighting therein. The name refers to Al-Qaeda fighters previously based in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran who have travelled to Syria to fight with Jabhat al-Nusra. They have been doing so for several years now, so should not be considered a new or distinct group as such.

12:13 President Obama will address the nation from the White House this afternoon about the Syria air strikes, it has been announced, before flying to New York to join other world leaders including David Cameron at the UN Climate Change Summit.

12:09 British Conservative MP John Baron has warned against air strikes in Syria. He said:

Quote IS has to be driven out of Iraq, given our responsibility to the Iraqi people following our misguided intervention in 2003. But air strikes into Syria are a higher risk strategy, with no certain outcome. The UK should be advising caution, particularly against mission creep.

11:58 Britain is “falling behind the curve” on Iraq and Syria because Labour is refusing to “get off the fence” on air strikes, Tory MPs have warned, writes Steven Swinford.

Parliament is likely to be recalled this week for a vote on military intervention after the US conducted air strikes for the first time in Syria.

Ed Miliband, the labour leader, has refused to say whether his party will support military action in Iraq despite pressure from the Conservatives.

Sir Gerald Howarth, a Tory back-bencher, said that Britain has a “moral duty” to intervene.

“I think they are betraying the national interest by refusing to say what they think about air strikes,” he said. “We are falling behind the curve on this, there is a clear moral case for intervention.”

Read the full story here.

11:51 Ruth Sherlock has received reports of a ‘high death count’ among Isil troops:

There are reports of a high death count among Isil troops. One Syrian from Raqqa told the Telegraph that the US airstrikes hit a building that was formerly the Syrian regime’s “political security branch”, which was now being used as an Isil base, killing everyone inside. “We think about 15 Isil fighters were killed in there,” the resident said, who asked for his name not to be revealed.

11:49 The US navy has released footage showing Tomahawk Land Missiles being fired from the USS Philippine Sea at Isil targets in Syria:

11:32 Russia has condemned the US-led air strikes against Isil. The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement:

Quote Any such action can be carried out only in accordance with international law. That implies not a formal, one-sided ‘notification’ of airstrikes but the presence of explicit consent from the government of Syria or the approval of a corresponding UN Security Council decision.”

11:29 The death toll from US strikes on al Qaeda-linked militants in northern Syria has risen to 50, a monitoring group said. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said most of those killed in the strikes, which targeted fighters from the Nusra Front in the northern Idlib area, had been non-Syrians, according to Reuters.

11:26 The UN refugee agency has said it is making plans to expect all 400,000 inhabitants of the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani to flee into Turkey to escape advancing Islamic State militants.

Some 138,000 Syrian Kurdish refugees have entered Turkey in an exodus that began last week, and two border crossing points remain open, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said.

“We are preparing for the whole population fleeing into Turkey. The population of Kobani is 400,000,” UNHCR chief spokeswoman Melissa Fleming told a news briefing in Geneva.

“We don’t know, but we are preparing for that contingency.”

11:13 David Blair outlines the Arab coalition supporting US air strikes against Isil:

Five Arab countries are supporting the US air campaign against Isil targets in Syria, according to the Pentagon. But only Jordan has confirmed that its aircraft have actually carried out air strikes. All of the others have kept silent, raising doubts over whether they are flying bombing missions, or confining their role to offering bases and opening their airspace.

The very fact that Arab countries are part of the coalition at all, however, allows America to demonstrate that the anti-Isil offensive is not simply a Western campaign in the Middle East.

The states named by the Pentagon are as follows:

Saudi Arabia

With 305 combat aircraft, Saudi Arabia possesses the most powerful air force in the Arab world. The backbone of the kingdom’s striking power is provided by two squadrons of US-supplied F-15 Eagles and three of British-supplied Tornados. This makes Saudi Arabia ideally placed to operate alongside a Western coalition.

Whether the Royal Saudi Air Force has actually struck targets inside Syria is unclear. So far, the kingdom’s rulers have kept silent. They have traditionally been deeply reluctant to deploy their own forces in Western-led military ventures. The last time this happened was in 1991 when Saudi Arabia joined the coalition that expelled Iraq’s army from Kuwait. But this decision was relatively uncontroversial because the kingdom’s own security was directly threatened by Iraqi forces.

King Abdullah has repeatedly urged America to intervene in Syria, but he may not feel able to deploy his own strike aircraft in this cause. If the kingdom has not flown bombing missions against Isil, its part in the offensive may be limited to opening its airspace for US aircraft.

United Arab Emirates

The UAE has 201 combat aircraft organised into three squadrons of US-supplied F-16s and three of French Mirages. Last month, the country showed its ability to carry out air strikes when the UAE bombed Islamist militias in Libya’s capital, Tripoli. In 2011, the UAE also joined Britain and France in the campaign that toppled Col Gaddafi’s regime.

But the UAE shares the traditional Arab reluctance to join Western-led military offensives. Whether its air force is carrying out combat sorties in Syria is unclear. If not, the UAE’s role may be confined to opening its air space and allowing the US to use al-Minhad military air base near Dubai.

Jordan

With only 85 combat aircraft, the Royal Jordanian Air Force ranks among the smallest in the region. Yet it remains highly capable – and King Abdullah leads the only Arab government which has publicly confirmed that its aircraft are striking Isil targets in Syria alongside the US.

But this comes as little surprise. Of the five Arab states named by the Pentagon as supporting the offensive, only Jordan is directly threatened by Isil fighters. The terrorist movement has captured the area of Iraq along Jordan’s eastern frontier. Hence King Abdullah can argue that Jordan’s participation is essential for national security.

Qatar

Made rich by the revenues of gas and oil, Qatar has laid ambitious plans to re-equip its air force. At present, however, the country possesses only 18 combat aircraft – 12 French Mirages and six antiquated training jets. This makes it highly unlikely that Qatar is flying bombing missions in Syria.

But Qatar also hosts the regional headquarters of US Central Command and al-Udeid air base, which serves as the hub for all American air operations in the Middle East. So the campaign against Isil is almost certainly being coordinated and controlled by US commanders based in Qatar. Yet that is probably the limit of the country’s participation.

Bahrain

With only 39 combat aircraft, Bahrain’s air force is one of the weakest in the region. The fact that the Pentagon named Bahrain as part of the anti-Isil coalition is a surprise. The country possesses only one ground attack squadron consisting of 12 antiquated F-5 aircraft, a model designed in the 1950s. This means that Bahrain’s air force is almost certainly incapable of striking targets in Syria. Instead, Bahrain’s participation is probably limited to opening its air space and allowing the US to use military facilities on the island, notably the headquarters of the Fifth Fleet.

11:07 A map showing the locations of US airstrikes in Syria. Click to view a larger version.

10:40 An update on Israel shooting down a Syrian jet (see 08:35 post) from the Telegraph’s Inna Lazareva:

Quote Israel shot down a Syrian Sukhoi 24 fighter jet with a Patriot missile as the plane infiltrated into Israeli airspace this morning at around 9am local time. Jerusalem and Damascus consider each other enemy states and the incident marks the first time in almost 30 years that Israel has shot down a Syrian jet.

Two pilots ejected from the plane and landed on the Syrian side of the border.

According to the former head of Israeli air force intelligence Brig Gen (res.) Ram Shmueli, the plane was “fully loaded with ammunition”, and had penetrated approximately half a mile inside Israeli air space.

The IDF has not yet confirmed whether the infiltration was erroneous or on purpose, but some security officials have voiced scepticism that crossing into the Israeli airspace had happened by mere accident.

According to Mr Shmueli, Israel is on high alert for incidents of this kind, including incoming “drones, airplanes and even civilian airplanes” participating in a “9/11 type scenario”.

Local residents living nearby told The Telegraph they have been hearing heavy bombardments and explosions for several days, including this morning.

Unverified video from YouTube shows US air strikes on Raqqa, Syria

10:30 The Syrian government said on Tuesday it had received a letter from US Secretary of State John Kerry delivered by the Iraqi foreign minister telling it the United States and its allies planned to attack Islamic State in Syria.

“The foreign minister received a letter from his American counterpart via the Iraqi foreign minister, in which he informed him that the United States and some of its allies would target (Islamic State) in Syria,” the Syrian foreign ministry said. “That was hours before the raids started.”

10:20 YouGov has been tracking public opinion on how to respond to the Isil threat. Some 52pc would now approve RAF air strikes on Isil in Syria, with 27pc opposing. Last month support and opposition were level at 37pc.

10:07 Former foreign secretary Jack Straw has said he is not against the principle of “proportionate and sensible” British involvement in military action against Isil although operations in Syria required “some kind of consent” from the Syrian government.

The Labour MP told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “We’re part of the Western alliance, we have key interests – direct and indirect – in the region, so in principle we should be involved provided the circumstances are right.”

Pushed on whether Britain should be involved in Iraq and Syria, Mr Straw said:

Quote It depends on the circumstances. Syria only if there is consent of some kind by the Syrian government. There are quite big legal problems if there isn’t consent and I know there are discussions taking place in New York at the moment, or will be when they’re up, about a proper legal base for military action.

What I think is encouraging about what’s been announced overnight is there’s an alliance of Arab countries involved in this because it should not just be as the satans of the West coming in to defend their interests.

The biggest threat Isil poses is to the Arab world and to ordinary Arab people.”

09:58 More from the Telegraph’s Ruth Sherlock:

In Syria, it is more about politics than bombing raids. Whilst in Iraq Isil’s biggest asset is the sheer quantity of terrain it now controls, its biggest prize in Syria is its control of the country’s oil fields – through which the group reportedly makes several million dollars every day.

The key, say Syrians in the area where the US strikes took place, is for airpower to accompany adept political manoeuvring, where the US works to win the support of local Syrians.

One such group that the US and its allies should be working with is the Sheitaat tribe. Numbering up to 70,000, for decades this Bedouin tribe has controlled the transport routes to and from the lucrative oil fields.

In August this year Isil showed the Bedouins no mercy, reportedly killing up to 700 people as they slashed their way through the terrain and seized two major oil fields in northeastern Deir al-Zour province.

If the US can win the support of the Sheitaat tribe, they potentially have a useful ally in shutting down Isil’s biggest source of funding.

Airstrikes alone, however, could backfire, actually increasing local support for the jihadist group, residents of Raqqa have warned.

Abu Ibrahim al-Raqqawi said the rise of Isil in Syria was a direct result of US inaction against the Syrian regime, arguing that an opportunity for the extremists to take power was presented in the vacuum of law and order created by the Syrian civil war. He warned that US airstrikes on Raqqa might only make the situation worse:

“If the US strikes Raqqa it will increase the popularity of Isil. I think when Isil slaughtered the American journalists, they intended to provoke the West to start airstrikes as they know this would only increase their popularity.”

“Isil knows that because the civilian casualties would be high, they will become more popular.”

09:49 Air strikes by US-led coalition forces in Syria killed 30 fighters from al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front and eight civilians including children, a group monitoring the war said on Tuesday.

The strikes targeted a residential building in Aleppo province used by Nusra Front, said Rami Abdulrahman, who runs the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The United States said earlier on Tuesday its forces had carried out eight strikes against al Qaeda-affilated militants west of Aleppo.

09:34 A threat to kill a French hostage in Algeria will not deter France from continuing air strikes on Isil fighters in Iraq, the French prime minister, Manuel Valls, said on Tuesday, writes David Chazan in Paris.

“These strikes, this commitment will obviously continue,” Mr Valls told Europe 1 radio in Berlin, where he has been meeting the German chancellor, Angela Merkel.

However, he said France was working with the Algerian government “to do everything to allow our compatriot to recover his freedom”.

An Algerian group linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil) threatened to kill the hostage, Hervé Gourdel, 55, by the end of Tuesday unless France halts its bombing raids. Jund al-Khilifa (Soldiers of the Caliphate) said it was responding to a call from Isil to kill nationals of countries in the US-led coalition against the terrorist group.

France became the first western US ally to launch air strikes on Friday. Mr Gourdel, who was on a trekking holiday in a mountainous region of Algeria, was abducted on Sunday.

09:10 Syria’s Western-backed National Coalition opposition group welcomed air strikes by the United States and Gulf Arab allies on Islamic State strongholds in Syria on Tuesday, saying they would strengthen its struggle against President Bashar al-Assad.

“This will make us stronger in the fight against Assad… The campaign should continue until the Islamic State is completely eradicated from Syrian lands,” Monzer Akbik, special envoy to the president of the coalition, told Reuters.

09:02 The Telegraph’s Ruth Sherlock writes:

The military strikes on Syria by the United States and its allies will give President Barack Obama at least temporary respite from attacks by his critics that he is not doing enough to fight the jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).

But while it may alleviate some domestic pressures, the attacks have opened a new and potentially dangerous chapter, both in the fight against Isil and in the Syrian civil war.

Local reports and YouTube footage suggest the airstrikes took place against targets in Isil’s capital Raqqa, as well as in the neighbouring northern provinces of Deir al-Zour and Aleppo.

The announcement that the United States would strike in Syria had temporarily cowed the jihadists, who were reported to have melted away from many of their positions to seek out hiding places where they could protect themselves from the strikes.

However, in the longer term bombing Isil from the air, especially in Syria, is a strategy potentially laden with pitfalls.

In Iraq, the air attacks have assisted the advance of a ground force on Isil positions; either the Kurdish peshmerga forces in the north of the country, or the Iraqi government and Shia allied militias further south.

The same would need to happen in Syria if the air attacks are to have effect. But it is less clear there who that ground force would be.

The so called “moderate opposition” groups – rebels who have not joined Isil or Al-Qaeda’s Jabhat al-Nusra – who formed themselves initially to fight the Syrian regime have dwindled in strength and become fractured after three years of war with minimal western support.

The US and its allies are trying to reverse this trend, sending in weapons and providing training to build up the strength of this opposition as a ground force to counter Isil.

Past efforts to build up the strength of this opposition has failed as the groups fractured and squabbled among themselves over limited weapons supplies. Efforts to transform them into a proper fighting force then will take a long time, and, western diplomats have told the Telegraph, even then, they will not be strong enough in numbers to fight Isil alone.

08:57 Twitter users were discussing the US air strikes against Isil before they were officially announced.

Abdulkader Hariri began tweeting about huge explosions in the city of Raqqa around 30 minutes before the Pentagon made its announcement:

08:45 An Islamic State fighter said on Tuesday the group will respond to US-led air strikes inside Syria and blamed Saudi Arabia for allowing them to happen.

“These attacks will be answered. The sons of Saloul are the ones who are to be blamed. It happened because of them,” he told Reuters, using a derogatory term for Saudi Arabia’s royal Saudi family.

08:35 Israel has shot down a Syrian fighter jet which entered their airspace, the first time in 25 years that Israel has taken such action against one of Syria’s planes, according to the Telegraph’s Robert Tait.

“A warplane that penetrated Israeli territory was successfully shot down a short while ago by the air defence systems along the Syrian border,” a military statement said, without giving further details.

Army radio said it was apparently a MiG-21 fighter jet which was shot down by a surface-to-air Patriot missile, with the wreckage landing on the Syrian-controlled side of the plateau.

08:33 The US military has confirmed its partners in air strikes against Islamic State militants in Syria included Jordan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

In a CENTCOM statement, it added the US military had taken action to disrupt “imminent attack” against the US and Western interests by “seasoned al Qaeda veterans” who had established a safe haven in Syria, according to Reuters. “These strikes were undertaken only by US assets,” it said.

The statement said the US had launched strikes from warships in international waters in the Red Sea and the North Arabian Gulf.

It said Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi and the UAE had “also participated in or supported the air strikes against (Islamic State) targets. All aircraft safely exited the strike areas,” it said.

The statement said:

Quote A mix of fighters, bombers, remotely piloted aircraft and Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles conducted 14 strikes against ISIL targets.

The strikes destroyed or damaged multiple ISIL targets in the vicinity of the towns of Ar Raqqah in north central Syria, Dayr az Zawr and Abu Kamal in eastern Syria and Al Hasakah in northeastern Syria. The targets included ISIL fighters, training compounds, headquarters and command and control facilities, storage facilities, a finance center, supply trucks and armed vehicles, the news release said.

The US military also targeted another militan group, the al-Qaeda linked Khorasan Group:

Quote Separately, the United States also took action to disrupt the imminent attack plotting against the United States and Western interests conducted by a network of seasoned al-Qaida veterans known as the Khorasan Group. The group has established a safe haven in Syria to develop external attacks, construct and test improvised explosive devices and recruit Westerners to conduct operations, the release said. These strikes were undertaken only by US assets.

In total, US Central Command forces conducted eight strikes against Khorasan Group targets located west of Aleppo, to include training camps, an explosives and munitions production facility, a communication building and command and control facilities.

08:30 Jordan has said its warplanes joined the strikes against Islamic State, becoming the first Arab state to confirm its participation in the raids.

“We took part in the strikes which are part of our efforts to defeat terrorism in its strongholds,” government spokesman Mohammad Al-Momani told AFP.

08:00 The Telegraph’s Ruth Sherlock writes:

I think this could be a dangerous step for the US in the fight against Isil. If air strikes are not coupled with a mission to turn the local tribes in northern Syria against Isil, it could actually increase support for the jihadist group.

There is also the question of how this plays out in terms of the Syrian regime. It’s difficult to see how the US can fight Isil in Syria without seeming as if it is, indirectly at least, supporting the Syrian regime.

07:57 Syrian state television said the United States informed Syria’s UN representative on Monday that Islamic State targets would be hit in Raqqa, which is 400 km (250 miles) northeast of Damascus. A group monitoring the war in Syria said at least 20 Islamic State fighters were killed.

07:55 Britain was not involved in the air strikes against Isil. The Ministry of Defence say discussions are ‘ongoing’ and no decision has been made.

07:52 A US official, speaking to the Reuters news agency on condition of anonymity, said that Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Bahrain were involved although their exact roles in the military action were unclear.

Qatar played a supporting role in the air strikes, the official said, in what is an unprecedented and unexpected show of regional solidarity against the Isil group that has rampaged through Syria and Iraq.

07:50 Also overnight, British hostage John Cantlie was once more paraded by Isil extremists to deliver a message of defiance against the US and their allies in the latest video to be released online.

The video, close to six minutes long, is titled ‘Lend Me Your Ears – Messages from the British Detainee John Cantlie’ and is tagged as episode one. At the end of the film Cantlie urges viewers to “join him next time”.


An US AV-8B Harrier jet launching from the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (US NAVY / Christopher Lindahl/EPA)

07:45 Welcome to live coverage of the US campaign against Islamic State (IS). Overnight, the US and its allies launched a fresh offensive against the fighters of the Islamic State (Isil), striking targets in Syria for the first time using cruise missiles, drones as well as warplanes.

The strikes were concentrated around the city of Raqqa, the militants’ main stronghold close to the border with Iraq.

“US military and partner nation forces have begun striking Isil targets in Syria using mix of fighters, bombers and Tomahawk missiles,” said Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary.

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24 Comments on “What a DAY !!”

  1. David Says:

    G’day Joseph,

    Long time no speak, but always reading and watching… Not sure if this is a good thing. Happy to see Sunni’s take the fight to Shia/Iran. Seems as though all actions/interventions by Obama are in the favour of Iran. Which means in the favour of Israel’s biggest enemy. ISIS idiots couldn’t take on Israel. Iran could, especially with nukes.

    Let the muslims destroy themselves, lets not stop them. May sound harsh, but that is what they choose to do. Israel’s main interests are in weakening Iran.

    Always your friend and admirer, we should talk soon!

    David

    PS Sorry, a bit drunk when I type this, ha ha ha

  2. Louisiana Steve Says:

    With the Gulf states participating now, nothing short of a complete victory over ISIS can be tolerated. Anything short of that and we’ll see an ISIS like never before. They will claim victory over the region and cast a shadow of doubt over the strength of their governments. As we’ve witnessed time and time again, perceived weakness is dangerous in the Muslim world. Looks like the job might be finished this time.

    • joopklepzeiker Says:

      The job will be finished only when hell freezes over in this way.

      We have to hunt them down till the last man and woman and no regards for borders, means boots on the ground !
      I do not see a coalition who is willing to allow and willing to do that.

      you can not bomb people to the stone age if they already living in the stone age !

      Look at hamas , they are already building new rockets for the next dance , o what about a coalition about that ?

      It is still just a freaking soap and not a definitive solution.

      Bombing toyota jeeps ! or do you think we will bomb civil centra where they hiding .

      • Louisiana Steve Says:

        You’re right. There is a no ‘troops-on-the-ground’ coalition. But….I’m not saying bombing is the only answer. It does have a helluva impact (no pun intended). Dresden anyone? As for troops on the ground, I still vote a resounding ‘hell no!’. In the event of an attack on the homeland, then yes, or course. In the event of an attack on our personnel and interests in another country, I would expect that country to be a good host and step up to the plate.

        p.s.- I own a Toyota Tacoma. It’s a heck of a fine truck, but it’s not bomb proof. 😉

        • joopklepzeiker Says:

          Dresden was against a modern society with a established infra structure, not running around hiding behind everything ragheads, the have a complete different mindset.
          Killing groundhogs with tomahawk missiles !
          I understand your hell no, but if not now than later when they are stronger, waiting to long works contra productive , it has to be done
          Your expectations are to big.
          And your right about your truck, they are great !

  3. David Says:

    G’day Louisiana Steve from David in Melbourne, Australia!

    I reckon these numbskulls will just reap despair and destruction wherever they go… and good on ’em!. Are they gonna build a unified, resolute economy/country? No way. Are they the wrecking ball bashing themselves thru Israel’s enemies? Absolutely. I’d prefer to see western assistance given to them to march into Tehran, that would be popcorn time at the IDF.

    David

    • josephwouk Says:

      David! Good to hear from you, buddy…

      Shana tova!

      Nu? When are you finally coming to visit?

      Joe

      • David Says:

        Yes my friend Joesph, I have been recalcitrant… Last couple of years have been a bit weird in my life, but have come out of it for the better. But anyway…

        I wear my IDF tshirts with pride here in Melbourne Australia! And my hebrew necklace.

        I will always resolutely support your country’s beautiful endevours.. When I can it will be good to visit.

        What is best time of year to visit? (if any?)

        I hear you have a good party scene in Tel Aviv. And good places everywhere else!

        Sorry for less than lucid response, a bit drunk, but oh well,

        Standing shoulder to shoulder with you,

        David

    • Louisiana Steve Says:

      Hi David… hope all is well in the ‘Down Under’. I totally agree. ISIS’ only real accomplishment will be to make enemies of everyone. Dumasses all. Funny….I suddenly have this urge to drink an ice cold Fosters. 🙂

      • David Says:

        Awesome! Good on ya, I raise my glass *bit pissed* feeling worried about going to work tomorrow, ha ha.

        That’s funny you should mention Fosters, you never see it over here! Not on tap at bars nor as takeaways. But we have become known for it! Bloody weird…

        • Louisiana Steve Says:

          I’m surprised y’all have any left to export. You guys drink about as much as we do here in the States. 🙂

          • David Says:

            Now that sounds like a challenge! I reckon we could drink you under my friend…Ha ha!

            But at least we people – like you, me, Joeseph and all – live life, have fun and celebrate being alive!

            Those anti-life followers of the religion of beheadings… I cannot think of anything more disgraceful than seeing that.

          • Louisiana Steve Says:

            I’ll drink to that….cheers!

        • joopklepzeiker Says:

          It would be Victoria Bitter i suppose .

          Fun spending your brass on a sheila and a bitter .

          Foster is from England

  4. joopklepzeiker Says:

    It is just Syria, what about the rest ??

  5. joopklepzeiker Says:

    Qatar, is part of this coalition ?

  6. joopklepzeiker Says:

    150 precision missiles and 150 dead terrorist, just another 100,000 to go and next week 150,000.

    And is al quida dead again, we have to wait for the speech from the black hand.

    I will buy toyota stocks and Raytheon stocks !


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