U.S. military airplanes struck temporary oil refineries in northern Syria on Sunday in an effort to weaken a key source of revenue for Islamic State militants who have captured large areas of northern Syria and are attempting to create an Islamic State and overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad.
On Friday and Saturday the United States and its Arab partners attacked Islamic State targets in Syria, using fighter and remotely piloted aircraft to conduct seven airstrikes.
U.S. military forces also used attack aircraft to conduct three airstrikes against Islamic State in Iraq, according to U.S. Central Command News Release.
Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates participated in the air strikes that are aimed at destroying the ability of Islamic State militants to carry out attacks in the region.
“Our targeted actions are disrupting ISIL’s command and control, their logistics capabilities and their infrastructure in Syria,” U.S. General Martin Dempsey said last week during a Pentagon news conference.
President Obama said on CBS’s 60 Minutes that the intelligence community in his administration underestimated what had been taking place in Syria.
“Well I think, our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria, ” Obama admitted.
“Syria is more challenging, because the U.S. has few viable allies on the ground there,” Obama later explained.
Military analysts believe that Islamic State militants number in the range of 40,000 and are well equipped to fight against groups opposing them.
Sunni-based Islamic State originated in 1999 and was the forerunner of al Qaeda in Iraq which carried out insurgency attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq after the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Islamic State grew stronger after the U.S. pulled its forces from Iraq and eventually dominated the Iraqi military in Sunni strongholds of western and north central Iraq, undermining the leadership of former President Nouri Maliki, a Shiite, who controlled Iraq from 2006-2014 and lost credibility in the eyes of Iraq’s Sunni majority due to his sectarian practices.
Islamic State entered the Syrian civil war and is seeking to topple the government of Syrian President Bashir Assad, an Alawite, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, whose government stands accused of oppressing Sunnis and committing chemical weapons attacks.
But Islamic State has coalesced into more than a liberation movement for persecuted Sunni Muslims seeking to restore the balance of power in the Middle East.
Islamic State, with its international jihad recruits, are responsible for carrying out brutal attacks on ethnic and religious minorities across Iraq and Syria as it seeks to dismantle borders in both countries and impose a caliphate, sparking international condemnation and agreement among several Arabs nations that the militant group has become a legitimate threat to the stability of the region.
Through its caliphate form of rule, Islamic State claims religious authority over all Muslims across the world and seeks to bring the majority of Muslim regions of the world under its political control.
Along with the support of several European countries and Australia, the U.S. has come to the aid of persecuted religious minorities.
The U.S and its European allies have armed and provided air support to Kurdish Peshmerga fighters on the ground who have reclaimed the Mosul Damn and other strategic locations in northern Iraq that were seized by Islamic State fighters.
Last week President Obama widened the air assault attacks on Islamic State in the region to include new targets inside the borders of Syria. Obama used existing authority granted to him to combat al Qaeda in 2001 that doesn’t require a Congressional vote.
Five Arab countries and France have joined the United States with air assaults against Islamic State targets inside Iraq with Belgium, Denmark, and the Netherlands pledging fighter planes.
Last week UK’s parliament approved air strikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq.
U.S lawmakers on Capitol Hill are requesting Congressional approval for Obama’s war against Islamic State targets as the scope of the war has moved to Syria where a 3 year sectarian civil war has divided the country and given sanctuary for opposition terrorist groups such as Islamic State to operate freely, using oil revenues from captured oil fields.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said on ABC’s This Week on Sunday that although the president has the authority to take military action against Islamic State militants in Syria, he will bring Congress back to vote on a new authorization to use force as early as next week if the president wants to move in that direction.
Boehner also called for American boots on the ground to combat Islamic State if no one else steps up.
“We have no choice” Boehner said. “They intend to kill us, and if we don’t destroy them first, we’re going to pay the price” he added.
The United States has sent 1600 American troops to Iraq in an effort to help advising and assisting Iraqis who are fighting Islamic State militants.
Saudi Arabia has agreed to allow 5,000 moderate Syrian opposition forces to train inside the country after the funding was approved by U.S. lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
Johnathan Schweitzer is a Seattle based writer, editor, and founder of Schweitzfinance.com, focusing on topics related to finance, politics, and technology. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org