The U.S. military plans to strike up to 20 targets — logistics, fuel and weapons depots; training sites; troop encampments; command and control sites; and headquarters for the Sunni fighters.
The U.S. military will deploy manned and unmanned air assets, including F-22s, B-1 bombers, F-16s, F-15s and F/A-18s.
The aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush is at the ready in the Persian Gulf, and the USS Arleigh Burke, a guided missile destroyer that fires Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMs), is in the Red Sea.
The Department of Defense released the following statement from Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby today:
“I can confirm that U.S. military and partner nation forces are undertaking military action against ISIL terrorists in Syria using a mix of fighter, bomber and Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles.”
“Given that these operations are ongoing, we are not in a position to provide additional details at this time.
The decision to conduct theses strikes was made earlier today by the U.S. Central Command commander under authorization granted him by the commander in chief.
We will provide more details later as operationally appropriate.”
As we have noted previously, Russia is entirely against a U.S. intervention in Syria which targets essentially the Assad regime for the simple reason that all such an action would do is fast track Qatar's pipeline to Europe and leave Gazprom, pardon the pun, in the cold... (via Maria Dubovikova of Al-Arabiya)
U.S. President Barak Obama addressed the nation on Wednesday, saying that the U.S. is going to expand the air campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). He said he would not hesitate to authorize direct strikes against the militant group and its fighters in Syrian territory.
This decision, despite the demonstrated enthusiasm and assertiveness of the U.S. president, is very unlikely to be effective and could even worsen the crisis, pushing the situation to the point of no-return.
First of all, the Syrian government sustainably strikes the positions of the rebels, including ISIS, with relative success. Thus it is quite evident that airstrikes are not effective in fighting ISIS. According to the fighters’revelations, they know where to hide in the case of airstrikes as they have gained experience in the years they have been fighting against Assad’s forces. This is common for both moderate Syrian opposition fighters and ISIS. Despite the will not to put boots on the ground, the U.S. has no other option if they intend to lead the international coalition. Moreover, it’s impossible to create an effective coalition and battlefront if Iran and Syria are not to be included.
The criticism came both from Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin and from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Alexander Lukashevich.
The criticism is based on one key point:without the Syrian government’s agreement and a UNSC mandate, the U.S. strikes in Syria would be a gross violation of international law and should be considered an act of aggression. Moreover, Moscow didn’t pass over in silence the double standard approach of Washington, as while helping Iraq to fight the terrorists on its territory, the U.S. president called for approval for more funding of the so-called armed opposition in Syria. Also, recent revelations by fighters in the pages of the Western press purport that the moderates in Syria are absolutely demoralized, weak and their ranks thinned out as the fighters join ISIS. In light of such reports, it is not clear which party Obama is going assist in this case and how his calls correspond to the real situation on the ground.
...there are deep concerns that the U.S. will bomb not only ISIS positions in Syria, but also the Syrian government forces. These concerns can be explained by the fact that evidently the strikes against ISIS could play into hands of Damascus and this doesn’t correspond with the U.S. interests. Taking into account that during all these years of the Syrian war the U.S. could have been trying to realize its plans to bomb Syria, they could take advantage of this situation.
If the U.S. bombs the positions of government forces, by mistake or with malicious intent, this would have doubly unpredictable consequences, both at the international and regional levels.
For sure, this will trigger a new crisis with Russia. The crisis of credibility in bilateral relations will reach the highest point. Russia will ultimately respond to the possible aggression. But how? It’s a big question with a difficult to predict answer. Moreover, possible strikes against Damascus’ forces will blow up the remains of credibility of international law, international systems and institutions. After the meeting over Iraq in Paris on Monday, Russia’s foreign minister stressed that the international community should build common action “on a solid foundation of the United Nations Charter and U.N. counter-terrorist instrument and mechanisms.” The call to respect the U.N. Charter is clear and logical, however its solidness, as well as that of the U.N. system in general, is already in doubt. Any further violations of international law and U.N. principles will definitely be the last straw, leading to international chaos.
...In other words, expect a Russian response shortly...
The IDF shot down a Syrian fighter plane over the Israeli Golan Heights Tuesday using a Patriot missile, the army said.
The army said the plane had infiltrated Israeli airspace before it was shot down.
Syria confirmed the plane was hit and downed near Quneitra, near the Israel-Syria border, “in the framework of (Israel’s) support for the terrorist (Islamic State) and the Nusra Front,” Reuters reported.
The statement, attributed to chief Islamic State spokesman Abu Muhammad al Adnani, mentions Australia three times in 11 pages of apocalyptic threats against "crusaders".
Clearly calling for followers to martyr themselves, Adnani says that if IS supporters cannot obtain a bomb or a gun to kill a Westerner, they should "smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car, or throw him down from a high place, or choke him or poison him".
Looking for a new approach to blunt the Ebola epidemic sweeping West Africa, the Liberian government, the World Health Organization and their nonprofit partners here are launching anambitious but controversial program to move infected people out of their homes and into ad hoc centers that will provide rudimentary care, officials said Monday.
The effort, which is expected to begin in the next few weeks, is an intermediate step, officials said. The goal is to reduce the chances that Ebola patients will infect their own families and others while ensuring that they receive basic care — such as food, water and pain medicine — at a time when many hospitals and treatment centers are closed.
The initiative also is a tacit acknowledgment that it could be weeks, even months, before new treatment facilities promised by the United States and others are operational. Continued reliance on home-based care doesn’t do much good, officials said, in taming a devastating epidemic in a country where large groups of people live in crowded, urban settings.
The proposed community care centers, as they are dubbed by officials, would have between 15 to 30 beds. Ultimately, as many 70 centers could be set up across Liberia, if the strategy proves successful. Such a program has never been tried on such a large scale.
A similar effort is being discussed for Sierra Leone.
The total number of cases of Ebola in West Africa is doubling every three weeks, with each person with the virus infecting as many as two other people, health officials say. That high rate of transmission is making it impossible to contain the worst Ebola outbreak on record.
The new treatment beds promised by Washington and others “are not coming fast enough,” Peter Graaf, the WHO’s country representative in Liberia said Monday. “We have to get to the point where every Ebola patient infects less than one [other person]. You have to get out of your house.”
The community care centers are supposed to complement the recently announced U.S. military effort to build facilities for 1,700 Ebola patientsacross Liberia, as well as ongoing efforts by other groups to provide several hundred beds. There are now slightly more than 380 beds in Monrovia, which has a population of 1.5 million people.
One of the main organizations involved in fighting the outbreak, Doctors Without Borders, is dubious about the new effort and has decided not to take part. Brice de le Vigne, the group’s director of operations, warned that the proposed community care centers could worsen the situation.
“This is not going to work,” he said. “To move people in an epidemic is a big responsibility, and it requires huge logistical capabilities” that the affected countries simply don’t have.
To be effective, he said, these care centers need to have strict infection control, adequate supplies, trained staff, regular supervision, the ability to diagnose and refer patients, and proper burial methods. Otherwise, they could turn into “contamination centers,” he said.
De le Vigne said the top priority should be deploying more trained staff to run the higher-level treatment centers in hospitals and clinics.
Nearly 6,000 people in West Africa have been infected with the virus, and 2,833 have died, the WHO says. Liberia, the hardest-hit nation, has had more than 3,000 infections and 1,578 deaths, according to the latest WHO data.
But this laboratory-confirmed case count is well below the actual number of people infected, according to the WHO and global health experts. Doctors Without Borders, for example, has said that number represents only 20 percent of the current caseload, meaning the true number of cases could be in the tens of thousands.