by Staff Writers
Damascus (AFP) Sept 23, 2014
The Damascus government said it had been informed by Washington of the air strikes it began early Tuesday on Islamic State group (IS) targets on Syrian soil.
"Yesterday (Monday), the Americans informed the Syrian representative at the United Nations that strikes would be carried out against the terrorist IS organisation in Raqa," the group's Syrian stronghold, a foreign ministry statement quoted by state television said.
The television reported multiple strikes on Raqa province, in the Euphrates Valley northeast of the capital.
"US warplanes have started carrying out air strikes against positions of the terrorist Daesh organisation in Raqa," it said, using the Arabic acronym for IS.
It was the first that Washington had launched air strikes against the jihadists in Syria. It began an air war against IS in Iraq on August 8.
Washington, which has backed the opposition in Syria's three-and-a-half year civil war, had ruled out any cooperation with the Damascus regime against IS.
US media reported that five Arab allies had joined in the strikes -- Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The Pentagon did not immediately confirm where the strikes took place, but activists reported some 20 strikes against IS targets in Raqa province.
Raqa is the jihadists' main bastion in Syria but they also control most of Deir Ezzor province further east, as well as sections of Aleppo in the north and Hasakeh in the northeast.
Jordan says its planes joined strikes on IS in Syria, Iraq
"We took part in the strikes which are part of our efforts to defeat terrorism in its strongholds," government spokesman Mohammad Al-Momani told AFP.
Earlier Tuesday, a Pentagon spokesman said the US military and unnamed "partner nation forces" had launched bombs and missiles against the jihadists' positions.
US media reported five Arab states -- Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates -- took part in the air raids as part of a new international coalition formed to attack the IS militants, who have captured swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria.
Jordan's military said its planes had destroyed an unspecified number of targets close to its borders with Syria and Iraq linked to "terrorist groups" who have "committed attacks of sabotage" on its soil.
It said all the planes had returned to base safely afterwards.
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