The Pentagon shocked the world this week with the news of U.S.-led airstrikes in Syria on Islamic State targets. Many wondered precisely what kind of airstrikes and what such a kinetic action would look like on the ground. To elucidate further, the Pentagon has released video of some airstrikes on ISIS targets.
The video shows the strike from the perspective of the aircraft and was uploaded to YouTube shortly after the announcement of airstrikes in general. U.S. Central Command describes the attack as targeting a storage facility used by the Islamic State in Abu Kamal, Syria:
The United States also published video of a bombing on Raqqa, the city the Islamic State claims as its “capital.” Airstrikes on Raqqa were considered pivotal to weakening Islamic State infrastructure:
As Vice explains, the United States had conducted 190 air strikes in Iraq before this recent campaign. The Islamic State very publicly flaunts state lines, however, arguing that the “Islamic State” is a state consisting of areas currently under the control of both Iraq and Syria. Such a declaration would require the West to attack Syria as well as Iraq to fully target the terrorist group.
All the videos released by the Pentagon are of strikes allegedly on Islamic State areas. None of the videos appear to show attacks on targets related to the shadowy terrorist sect Khorasan, believed to be comprised of experienced members of Al Qaeda and plotting imminent attacks on the United States. The Pentagon has confirmed that a majority of the Tomahawk missiles fired during the campaign this week were aimed at Khorasan, not Islamic State targets. White House counterterrorism adviser Lisa Monaco explained on MSNBC today that the White House is arguing that it is this imminent threat— the one posted by Khorasan– that justifies the airstrikes legally.
Nonetheless, the publicity on the airstrikes remains centered around the Islamic State group, which has led some in Congress calling for further incorporation of the legislature into decisions involving military activity. Khorasan is comprised of members of Al Qaeda; if the Obama administration can prove they were an imminent threat, action against them may be authorized through the Congress’s 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks. The Islamic State, while having some ties to Al Qaeda, split from the group before its conquest of much of Iraq.