Tuesday, September 23, 2014

U.S. expands war against Islamic State with airstrikes in Syria --- U.S. military leaders said Tuesday their aerial bombardment of Syria was only the beginning of a prolonged campaign that will continue intermittently for months and will become more difficult as targeted militants seek refuge in populated areas. -- The United States is now attacking two sets of enemies in the region: the Islamic State, a growing movement of jihadists seeking to create its own country in the Middle East, and the Khorasan Group, a smaller network affiliated with al-Qaeda that officials say is plotting against Europe and the United States. -- At the same time, as the U.S. military and its Arab partners prepare more airstrikes in Syria in the coming days, they will have to contend with another adversary: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. -- Although U.S. officials said they weren’t targeting Assad or his forces, many of the Sunni Muslim allies in President Obama’s coalition would like to see his government finally collapse after a devastating three-year civil war. Whether the coalition’s intervention in Syria will eventually help or hurt Assad represents one of the greatest unknowns in a military campaign filled with uncertainty. -- Army Lt. Gen. William C. Mayville Jr., director of operations for the Joint Staff at the Pentagon, said the objectives set for the U.S.-led war in Iraq and now Syria could take years to complete. The attacks in Syria marked the start of a new phase, coming six weeks after the U.S. military began a similar campaign of airstrikes against Islamic State fighters in neighboring Iraq. - More, Craig Whitlock, Washingtonpost


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