First US air-strikes on ISIS targets in Syria

The US carried out its first air-strikes against ISIS targets in Syria on Sept. 22. In a statement, Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said the US used "a mix of fighter, bomber and Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles" launched from the USS George HW Bush in the Persian Gulf. Kirby said that because these strikes are ongoing, he could not give details about where they took place. But an unnamed Pentagon official told NPR the strikes targeted positions near Raqqa, the ISIS de facto capital. Planes from five Arab countries participated in the strikes—also not named by Kirby, although FoxNews identified them as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Bahrain and Qatar. There was no indication that the Syrian government had been consulted on the strikes, as Damascus had demanded.

The head of Syria’s opposition movement, Hadi al-Bahra, one day earlier urged the US to launch strikes on ISIS in northeast Syria to protect local Kurdish populations. "We must begin airstrikes in Syria immediately, as we speak. Hundreds of thousands of civilians in northern Syria and Kobani area and Ayn al-Arabon area are trapped in a brutal siege by ISIS," said al-Bahra, President of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces. "Time is of the essence to avert catastrophe. We are ready to coordinate to with our allies to maximise the impact of airstrikes against ISIS. Hitting them in Iraq alone will not work if they can continue to operate, regroup and train inside Syria."

An ISIS offensive in northeast Syria has forced tens of thousands of Kurds to flee their homes—many crossing into Turkey, which needs help caring for 130,000 arrivals in the past few days alone, the UN's refugee agency UNHCR urges. Even before this influx, Turkey has been struggled to cope with more than a million Syrian refugees who have crossed into its territory since 2011.

Sherif Elsayed-Ali of Amnesty International warned that Turkey, overwhelmed by refugees, is shutting border posts and "denying safe sanctuary to anyone who is fleeing the horrors of war." He emphasized: "With more and more desperate refugees arriving at the border in search of safety it is crucial that the international community acts now to strengthen its support to Turkey and other countries neighbouring Syria to avert further suffering." (Rudaw)

  1. Syria between “three monsters”

    Danny Postel  in Dissent echoes a complaint we have long made: "Conspicuously absent from the debate about ISIS and US intervention—both in the mainstream and in the leftosphere—are Syrian voices. ISIS and US officialdom occupy center stage, leaving the perspectives of Syrian civil society activists and writers out of the equation." He offers some Syrian opposition voices, starting with Yassin al-Haj Saleh, a foremost figure in the civil resistance

    Three Monsters

    I am ambivalent about a Western attack against ISIS.

    On the one hand, I would like to see this thuggish gang wiped from the face of the earth. ISIS is a criminal organization that has killed thousands of Syrians and Iraqis while leaving intact another criminal organization—the Assad regime—that is responsible for the deaths of close to 200,000 people. ISIS has destroyed the cause of the Syrian revolution as much as the Assad regime has destroyed our country and society.

    On the other hand, an attack against ISIS will send a message to many Syrians (and Iraqis and other Arabs) that this intervention isn’t about seeking justice for heinous crimes, but is rather an attack against those who challenged Western powers. This will lead to more resentment against and suspicion of the outside world, which is the very nihilist mood on which ISIS capitalizes and profits.

    Western powers could have avoided this had they helped the Syrian resistance in its battle against the fascist Assad regime. The right thing to do, ethically and politically, is to build a coalition against both ISIS and the Assad regime, and to help Syrians bring about significant changes in their country's political environment.

    Let me finally say that I am very skeptical of the plans and intentions of the American administration. ISIS is the terrible outcome of our monstrous regimes and the West's role in the region for decades, as much as it is the result of grave illnesses within Islam. Three monsters are treading on Syria's exhausted body.