Details of the mission against militants in Syria
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. and five Arab countries launched airstrikes Monday night on Islamic State group targets and an al-Qaida group in Syria. Some facts about the military action:
Who: U.S., Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates launched strikes, Qatar in supporting role.
How many airstrikes: More than 200 airstrikes against roughly two dozen targets. The strikes came in three waves, beginning around 8:30 p.m. EDT and finishing well after midnight.
U.S. strikes: Air Force B-1 bombers, F-15E attack planes, F-16 fighters and F-22 fighters; Navy F/A-18 fighters and two types of drone aircraft launched more than 150 airstrikes. The USS Arleigh Burke, a destroyer, and the USS Philippine Sea, a guided missile cruiser, operating from international waters in the Red Sea and north Persian Gulf, fired 47 Tomahawk cruise missiles.
Islamic State group: Originally al-Qaida in Iraq, it is known by various names: the Islamic State in Syria, or ISIS; the Islamic State in Syria and the Levant, or ISIL; and the Islamic State. Its goal is to create a caliphate, or Islamic empire, in the Middle East. It is led by Iraqi militant Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and initially sought to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad, but other groups, including al-Qaida central command, turned against it because of its brutality. It is headquartered in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa and controls a large swath of territory across Syria and northern and western Iraq.
Khorasan Group: A mix of hardened jihadis from Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria and Europe that officials say poses a more direct and imminent threat to the United States. Its members did not go to Syria principally to fight Assad but were sent by al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri to recruit Europeans and Americans who have better ability to penetrate airline and immigration security. U.S. officials say Khorasan militants are working with bomb-makers from al-Qaida’s Yemen affiliate.
Nusra Front: Al-Qaida’s branch in Syria, which along with the Islamic Front has been the toughest foes of the Islamic State militants. It has also been one of the most effective forces against Assad’s troops, using suicide bombers to back its fighters. Once a mix of Syrian extremists and foreign jihadis, it saw many of its non-Syrian fighters defect to the Islamic State group over the past two years.
The U.S. and Arab allies struck Islamic State fighters, training compounds, headquarters and command and control facilities, storage facilities, a finance center, supply trucks and armed vehicles in the vicinity of Raqqa, Dayr az Zawr, Al-Hasakah and Abu Kamal.
The U.S. alone also conducted dozens of strikes against the al-Qaida-affiliated Khorasan Group west of Aleppo, including training camps, an explosives and munitions production facility, a communications building and command and control facilities.
AIRSTRIKES IN IRAQ
The U.S. launched four airstrikes against Islamic State militants, hitting Humvees, an armored vehicle and a fighting position near Kirkuk. That brought the total number of airstrikes in Iraq to 194 since Aug. 8.
AP Diplomatic Writer Matthew Lee contributed to this report.