The United States launched its first strike under its expanded mission to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), U.S. Central Command announced Monday.
U.S. aircraft targeted an “[ISIS] fighting position southwest of Baghdad that was firing on [Iraqi Security Forces] personnel,” CENTCOM said in a release. Previous U.S. airstrikes had been limited in scope to humanitarian aims and protecting American personnel and facilities.
President Barack Obama announced the expansion of the U.S. mission against ISIS on Sept. 10 in a primetime address from the White House, saying the U.S. would go on “offense” against the militant group. Administration officials said the president has decided to conduct airstrikes in Syria, where ISIS enjoys a “safe haven,” but White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday that Obama is still reviewing options from Department of Defense planners for the strikes.
“The airstrike southwest of Baghdad was the first strike taken as part of our expanded efforts beyond protecting our own people and humanitarian missions to hit [ISIS] targets as Iraqi forces go on offense, as outlined in the President’s speech last Wednesday,” CENTCOM announced. A separate airstrike destroyed six ISIS vehicles near Sinjar, Iraq, the mountainous area where Iraqi minorities were trapped by ISIS fighters last month, bringing to 162 the total number of U.S. airstrikes on ISIS.
Senior administration officials confirmed Monday that any effort by Syrian forces to target American aircraft involved in strikes against ISIS would put Syrian military resources at risk of U.S. attack.
On Tuesday, Obama will meet with retiredGeneral John Allen, the newly-named Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, and his deputy, Brett McGurk, at the White House. Obama will travel to Florida on Wednesday for meetings with CENTCOM leaders and officials involved in building an international coalition against ISIS.