It has begun. The US, and its Arab partners, are striking inside a sovereign nation, without that nation’s consent.
By Craig Whitlock
The U.S. military expanded its war against the Islamic State late Monday by sending waves of warplanes and launching Tomahawk cruise missiles into Syria to attack an array of targets in an aggressive and risk-laden operation that marks a new phase in the conflict.
Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said late Monday that U.S. commanders had deployed a mix of fighter jets and bombers and had also launched ship-based Tomahawk missiles against Islamic State targets in Syria. He said that the operations were ongoing and that more details would not be released until after the strikes were finished.
Kirby said in a statement that “partner nation forces” were also involved in the attacks, but did not identify the other countries.
Two U.S. defense officials identified the partner nations as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. One official described them as “full participants” in the airstrikes in Syria but did not give further details, saying it was up to those countries to fully disclose their roles.
Qatar also sent military aircraft to play a supporting role but did not carry out strikes, a third U.S. defense official said.
Residents of the northeastern Syrian city of Raqqah — the Islamic State’s self-declared capital — reported news of large explosions on Twitter and said repeated passes from military aircraft were clearly audible.
The United States was planning to attack as many as 20 Islamic State targets in the operation, which would mark the biggest single day of attacks since the military began striking the jihadist group in Iraq on Aug. 8, according to a senior U.S. military official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss details of the planned operation.