Wednesday, September 24, 2014

U.S. Promises Long Campaign in #Syria

At the Wall Street Journal, "Syria Strikes: U.S. Reports Significant Damage in Attacks on Islamic State, Khorasan; American, Arab Warplanes Hit Targets Around Iraq-Syria Border":
WASHINGTON—The first U.S.-led airstrikes on extremist groups in Syria hit militant leaders, training camps and control centers, U.S. officials said, promising this was only the start of a long campaign.

The attacks were conducted with the aid of Arab allies, but the U.S. carried out the bulk of the raids. After the first wave of strikes, the U.S. said it conducted follow-on attacks during the day Tuesday that hit two Islamic State armored vehicles in Syria.

The U.S. and its allies unleashed more than 160 missiles and bombs on targets inside Syria, disrupting infrastructure used by the extremist groups Islamic State and al Qaeda-linked Khorasan, Pentagon officials said in the first assessments of the impact of the strikes.

While it will be days before a definitive conclusion can be drawn, U.S. officials said they believe some leaders of both Islamic State and Khorasan were likely killed in the strikes on training camps and headquarters buildings.

The expansion of the military campaign against Islamic State from Iraq to Syria carries significant risks for President Barack Obama's administration.

Mr. Obama has spent his presidency extricating the U.S. from two long and costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now there is the prospect of getting mired again in a protracted Middle East war.

Western-backed rebels fear U.S.-led airstrikes on Islamic State and other extremist groups inside Syria will ultimately tip the balance in the multi-sided civil war in favor of the Syrian regime that Washington opposes.

Also, Islamic State made a new threat against a Western hostage. The family of British captive Alan Henning, an aid-convoy volunteer being held by the group, said on Tuesday that they had received an audio recording of the prisoner pleading for his life.

Islamic State has released videos showing the beheadings of three Western hostages—two of them Americans—since the U.S. began airstrikes on Islamic State targets in Iraq in early August.

U.S. officials didn't provide estimates of casualties, though local residents said many were killed, including civilians. American officials said there were no indications of civilian casualties and promised to review any such claims.

The U.S.-led strikes will continue over coming days, U.S. officials said, though they cautioned that future waves are likely to be smaller than the opening round as the campaign quickly settles into a lower, but persistent beat.

"I can tell you that last night's strikes were only the beginning," said Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary...

And don't miss Walter Russell Mead, "THE PARALLELS BETWEEN BARACK OBAMA AND GEORGE W. BUSH" (via Instapundit).

Still more at Memeorandum.