New anti-ISIS airstrike in Syria, 4 more in Iraq – Pentagon
8 civilians, incl. 3 children, killed in US-led strikes on Syria – monitor
US military has confirmed that the US-led coalition have launched five airstrikes on the Islamic State militants – one of them hit the Syrian territory, while four others hit Iraq.
“Two airstrikes west of Baghdad destroyed two ISIL armed vehicles and a weapons cache. Two airstrikes southeast of Irbil destroyed ISIL fighting positions. A fifth airstrike damaged eight ISIL vehicles in Syria northwest of Al Qa’im. All aircraft exited the strike areas safely,” the US Central Command said in a statement on Wednesday.
Pentagon officials told NBC News that that the airstrike northwest of Al Qaim damaged eight vehicles linked to the Islamic militants. The strikes in Iraq west of Baghdad targeted two vehicles and a weapons cache, while the terrorists’ “fighting positions” were hit southeast of Erbil.
The main target of the strikes was an area used by the Islamic States (formerly known as ISIS/ISIL) militants to move equipment from Syria across the border into Iraq, Rear Adm. John Kirby also told.
Various attack, bomber and fighter aircraft were used for the strikes, and all aircraft were able to leave the area unharmed afterward.
Earlier in the day, Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported airstrikes in and around the eastern Syrian city of Boukamal. The head of UK-based organization Rami Abdulrahman said the strikes also hit the territory 30-35 kilometers to the west of the strategic city of Kobani. He added that military planes that conducted attacks came from the direction of Turkey and were not Syrian.
In the fight against the extremist militants in Syria and Iraq, the US-led coalition will will not only use ongoing strikes, but also foreign fighters, cutting off financing, and a major effort to “reclaim Islam by Muslims,” US Secretary of State John Kerry told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday.
The US and its allies have vowed to combat the IS militants, who have been on the rampage in parts of war-torn Syria and Iraq. The anti-IS coalition, led by the US, was joined by nearly 40 nations including five Arab nations – Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
The first attacks in Syria were launched on Tuesday with 30 militants allegedly killed in the airstrikes. Syria has repeatedly warned that any action on its territory needs the government’s approval and has said it is willing to work with any country to tackle the IS militants.
“Any action of any type without the approval of Syrian government is an aggression against Syria,” Ali Haidar, minister of national reconciliation affairs, told reporters in Damascus earlier in September.
“There must be cooperation with Syria and coordination with Syria and there must be a Syrian approval of any action whether it is military or not.”
Moscow joined Damascus by stating that Washington should respect the sovereignty of Syria in its attempts to deal with the Islamists in the region.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Sunday that there is need for “strict adherence to the UN Charter and international law as well as unconditional respect for Syrian sovereignty during the implementation of plans by the US-led coalition, which includes the use of force.”
On Wednesday, Moscow questioned the effectiveness of the airstrikes, saying that it was a “controversial” issue.
“The specific context of the events still raises serious questions,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “First of all, the United States and the West in general for some reason chose to ignore the terrorist nature of the Islamic State, when the militants fought only with government troops in Syria.”
The ministry added that “despite the loud statements about the campaign’s ‘successes,’ the IS terrorists continue to block the Kurdish town of Kobani [Ayn al-Arab] in northeast Syria. In the event of its capture, the inhabitants will obviously be brutally repressed, if not completely annihilated.”
Meanwhile, a Syrian government minister said that the fight against IS militants is going in “right direction“, as Damascus has been kept informed.
“What has happened so far is proceeding in the right direction in terms of informing the Syrian government and by not targeting Syrian military installations and not targeting civilians,” Ali Haidar, minister for national reconciliation, told Reuters on Wednesday.
Bombing ‘imminent threat’: US justifies strikes without ‘direct request’ from Syria
The UN chief is “aware” that the Syrian government did not directly “request” airstrikes on terrorist targets on their soil and urged all parties involved in the US-led anti-ISIS campaign to take all necessary precautions to minimize civilian casualties.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he is “aware” that the US-led intrusion and airstrikes on Islamic State targets were not carried out “at the direct request of the Syrian Government,” in a statement delivered at a climate summit press conference.
However, he noted that Damascus “was informed beforehand” and that the strikes took place in “areas no longer under the effective control” of the government.
“I regret the loss of any civilian lives as a result of strikes against targets in Syria. The parties involved in this campaign must abide by international humanitarian law and take all necessary precautions to avoid and minimize civilian casualties,” the UN chief added.
In a letter to the UN secretary general, US Ambassador Samantha Power used Article 51 of the UN charter to justify air strikes against ISIS targets in Syria, claiming that it was necessary to protect civilians and secure Iraq’s borders.
The US explained that Iraq has “made it clear” that it faces a “serious” threat from the Islamic State militants coming from Syria, a country which Washington says offers “safe havens” for militants.
“These safe havens are used by ISIL (ISIS) for training, planning, financing, and carrying out attacks across Iraqi borders and against Iraq’s people,” the letter reads.
It is because of this threat and at the request of the Iraqi government that the US decided to lead a coalition against Islamic State positions in Syria, “in order to end the continuing attacks on Iraq,” to protect civilians and help Baghdad secure state borders.
Stating that IS poses a dire threat both to the region as well as to the security of the United States, Powers writes that Article 51 of the UN charter provides countries the right to engage in self-defense, including collective self-defense, against an armed attack.
“As is the case here, the government of the State where the threat is located is unwilling or unable to prevent the use of its territory for such attacks,” the letter, dated September 23, reads.
It argues that strikes against ISIS in Syria are justified as the Syrian regime “cannot and will not confront these safe havens effectively itself.”
“Accordingly, the United States has initiated necessary and proportionate military actions in Syria in order to eliminate the ongoing ISIL threat to Iraq.”
In addition, Washington is also conducting military action against Al-Qaeda “elements in Syria known as the Khorasan Group,” which it believes could be responsible for plotting against America and its allies.
The air campaign against the Khorasan extremists was separate from the one targeting the Islamic State group, as the US believes they were close to carrying out “major attacks” against the West.
“Intelligence reports indicated that the group was in the final stages of plans to execute major attacks against Western targets and potentially the US homeland,” announced Lt. Gen. William Mayville, director of operations for the US Joint Chiefs of Staff.
He specified that the group is “establishing roots in Syria in order to advance attacks against the West and the homeland.”
Calling the strikes “successful,” Mayville also announced that more than 40 Tomahawk missiles were launched from the Gulf and the Red Sea, saying “the majority of the Tomahawk strikes were against Khorasan.”
Earlier in the day, US President Barack Obama said that he ordered the strikes in Syria to “disrupt plotting against the United States and our allies by seasoned al-Qaeda operatives in Syria, who are known as the Khorasan Group”.
“Once again, 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,” he added.
However, the US airstrikes will not be “effective, if there is no coordination of actions on the ground and if no ground military operations are carried out,” Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moualem told RT Arabic.
“The US is mocking the whole world when they say that they are going to coordinate their actions not with the Syrian government, but with the moderate Syrian opposition. This is funny. What moderate opposition are you talking about?” Moualem told RT Arabic. “This moderate opposition is killing Syrians just like al-Nusra or ISIS.”
If the US “seriously wanted to fight the ISIS and other terrorist organizations,” there would be an international organization under the aegis of the UN, in which all countries would participate, Moualem said.