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Monday 23 October 2017

US goes to war with IS as bombing campaign starts with Syria missile strikes

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This photo provided by an anti-Bashar Assad activist group Edlib News Network (ENN), which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Syrian citizens checking a damaged house that they say was targeted by the coalition airstrikes, in the village of Kfar Derian. AP Photo
This photo provided by an anti-Bashar Assad activist group Edlib News Network (ENN), which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Syrian citizens checking a damaged house that they say was targeted by the coalition airstrikes, in the village of Kfar Derian. AP Photo
US President Barack Obama
US President Barack Obama delivers a statement at the White House in Washington on the air strikes in Syria, prior to departing for the United Nations in New York. Reuters
Residents inspect damaged buildings in what activists say was a U.S. strike, in Kfredrian, Idlib province. Reuters
Pictures showing an ISIL Command and Control Center in Syria before (L) and after it was struck by bombs dropped by a US F-22 fighter jet are seen in stills released by the US Department of Defense (DOD). Reuters
The guided-missile destroyer USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) launches Tomahawk cruise missiles, in the Arabian Gulf. AP Photo
A man stands on an old tank in the Israeli occupied Golan Heights as he uses binoculars to watch fighting in Syria. Israel shot down a Syrian warplane on Tuesday, saying the aircraft crossed the battle lines of Syria's civil war and flew over the Israeli-held Golan Heights, perhaps by accident. Reuters
Security forces use water cannons to disperse Kurdish demonstrators at the Turkish-Syrian boder near the southeastern town of Suruc, who had gathered to support Syrian Kurds. Reuters
Residents inspect damaged buildings in what activists say was a US strike, in Kfredrian, Idlib province. Reuters
The guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG 58) launches a Tomahawk cruise missile, as seen from the aircraft carrier USS George HW Bush (CVN 77), in the Arabian Gulf. Reuters
A man inspects the remains of what Islamist State militants say was a US drone which crashed into a communication tower in Raqqa. Reuters

The United States has told the United Nations that it led airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria because President Bashar al-Assad's government had failed to wipe out safe havens used by the group to launch attacks on Iraq.

In a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power wrote: "The Syrian regime has shown that it cannot and will not confront these safe havens effectively itself."

The strikes were needed to eliminate a threat to Iraq, the US and its allies, she wrote, citing Article 51 of the UN Charter, which covers an individual or collective right to self-defence against armed attack.

"States must be able to defend themselves... when, as is the case here, the government of the state where the threat is located is unwilling or unable to prevent the use of its territory for such attacks," Power wrote in the letter.

"Accordingly, the United States has initiated necessary and proportionate military actions in Syria in order to eliminate the ongoing (Islamic State) threat to Iraq," she wrote, adding that action was taken also against al Qaeda elements in Syria known as Khorasan "to address terrorist threats that they pose to the United States and our partners and allies."

Ban circulated the letter to the UN Security Council, diplomats said. Under Article 51, the 15-member body must immediately be informed of any action states take in self-defense.

The US and Arab allies bombed Syria for the first time yesteray, killing scores of Islamic State fighters and members of a separate al Qaeda-linked group, opening a new front against militants by joining Syria's three-year-old civil war.

Syria's UN Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari said that Power informed him in person of imminent US and Arab airstrikes against Islamic State targets on Syrian territory just hours beforehand.

"We're in close coordination with Iraq," Ja'afari said. The US mission confirmed that Power had informed Ja'afari.

STRONGHOLDS

Iraq notified the Security Council in a letter on Saturday of its request for the US to lead efforts to strike Islamic State strongholds because, it said, a safe haven for the militants in Syria had made its border "impossible to defend."

In the letter, Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari wrote that the safe haven for the radical Sunni Muslim group outside Iraq's borders was "a direct threat to the security of our people and territory." His letter did not identify Syria by name.

Power wrote that the Iraqi government asked the United States "to lead international efforts to strike (Islamic State) sites and military strongholds in Syria in order to end the continuing attacks on Iraq."

hnews@herald.ie

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