Gulf states make first statements since US launched air and missile campaign in Syria
Bahrain and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members sent planes to attack a number of "terrorist" sites, the Bahrain Defence Force (BDF) General Headquarters said on Tuesday, state news agency BNA reported.
"A group of fighter jets from the Royal Bahrain Air Force (RBAF) carried out earlier this morning, along with the air forces of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), allied and friendly countries, air strikes against a number of selected targets ... and destroyed them," the agency said, quoting a military statement.
It did not specify the targets. The statement was the first comment from a GCC state since the United States launched air and missile strikes in Syria for the first time on Tuesday, killing dozens of Islamic State fighters.
Separately, the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that the UAE Air Force launched its first strikes against ISIL targets on Monday evening.
"The operation was conducted in coordination with other forces participating in the international effort against the ISIL," the ministry said in a statement published by news agency WAM.
Saudi Arabia's air force also confirmed its participation in military operations against the ISIL group in Syria, Saudi Press Agency reported, citing an official source.
The source added that the operations were to support the moderate Syrian opposition as part of an international coalition to combat terrorism, but did not give further details about the Saudi role.
US Central Command earlier on Tuesday said Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates participated in or supported the strikes against IS targets around the eastern cities of Raqqa, Deir Al Zor, Hasakah and Albu Kamal.
Warplanes and ship-launched Tomahawk cruise missiles struck "fighters, training compounds, headquarters and command and control facilities, storage facilities, a finance centre, supply trucks and armed vehicles," it said.
Washington also said US forces had acted alone to launch eight strikes in another area of Syria against the "Khorasan Group", an Al Qaeda unit US officials have described in recent days as posing a threat similar to that from ISIL.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the war in Syria, said at least 70 IS fighters were killed in strikes that hit at least 50 targets in Raqqa and Deir Al Zor and Hasakah provinces in Syria's east.
It said at least 50 fighters and eight civilians were killed in strikes targeting Al Qaeda's Syrian affiliate, the Nusra Front, in northern Aleppo and Idlib provinces, apparently referring to the strikes the Americans said targeted Khorasan.
The Observatory said most of the Nusra Front fighters killed were not Syrians.
The air attacks fulfil President Barack Obama's pledge to strike in Syria against IS, a Sunni Muslim group that has seized swathes of Syria and Iraq, imposing a mediaeval interpretation of Islam, slaughtering prisoners and ordering Shi'ites and non-Muslims to convert or die.
In a sign of how ISIL's rise has blurred lines in Middle East conflicts, the Syrian government said Washington had informed it hours before the strikes in a letter from Secretary of State John Kerry sent through his Iraqi counterpart.
Where was Kuwait? Are they not part of the GCC anymore?
Bahrain should not have taken part in this process. While I agree that regional stability is a key concern for our GCC states Bahrain should not have gotten involved in what is primarily a USA fight against a group which they may or may have not created in the first place. We are not the UAE / KSA who have stable economies reliant on clear fundamentals including young affluent growing population size, fossil fuels, and large foreign reserves. Bahrain is a small country which is heavily reliant on its financial services sector & tourism (primarily from Saudi) for income. One terrorist attack in Bahrain will create a shock wave and lead to a serious dent in its positioning economically. We have seen how long it took for recovery since the troubles related to the Feb 14 events. I pray that Allah keep all of Bahrain & its residents safe.
Bad decision from GCC countries. At most they could have sat at the fence as usual. There is a lot of difference between active and passive support and GCC masses in the region are used to passive support at the most. Now these chickens will come to roast back home, not if but when? and it was quite unnecessary. When they didn't support moderate Syrian opposition actively on the ground but probably behind the scenes then what is the point in actively 'rejecting' anti-Assad group? Morally & media rejecting was it not enough? USA is far from here and it will not make any difference for them but we are neighbors and if one day if everything settles down (hopefully) then also this grudge will remain forever.