Update as of 6:22 a.m. EDT: U.S.-led airstrikes against Islamic State group strongholds in Syria “destroyed or damaged” several positions belonging to the Sunni militant outfit formerly known as ISIS, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing the Pentagon.
The aerial strikes were spread across northern Syria, extending over 220 miles east from near Aleppo to the Iraqi border, the report added, citing U.S. Central Command and local sources. All aircraft involved in the strikes reportedly returned safely to their bases.
Update as of 6:05 a.m. EDT: According to officials of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the United States-led airstrikes in northern Syria have killed at least 20 Islamic State group militants. The strikes also killed about 50 militants of the Jabhat al-Nusra Front -- the al Qaeda affiliate in Syria.
Eight civilians, including children, have also been reportedly killed in the airstrikes, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Meanwhile, Russia has reportedly criticized the airstrikes in Syria, labeling it an attempt by the U.S. to achieve its “own geopolitical goals.”
“(Airstrikes) can be carried out only in accordance with international law," the Russian Foreign Ministry said, according to a Reuters report. “That implies not a formal, one-sided 'notification' of airstrikes but the presence of explicit consent from the government of Syria or the approval of a corresponding U.N. Security Council decision.”
The U.S. launched airstrikes against ISIS targets in Syria early Tuesday, the Pentagon announced. CNN reported that Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Jordan joined with the U.S. in the attack, and according to ABC News, Qatar also participated.
The U.S. military attack, which was conducted by warplanes dropping bombs and ships firing cruise missiles, was aimed at 20 targets, including the headquarters of militant fighters as well as training sites, command and control sites, troop encampments and weapons depots, NBC News reported.
Attack sites were mainly in the militants' "de facto capital" of Raqqa and along the Iraq border, according to the New York Times.
“I can confirm that U.S. military and partner nation forces are undertaking military action against ISIL terrorists in Syria using a mix of fighter, bomber and Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles. Given that these operations are ongoing, we are not in a position to provide additional details at this time,” said Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby in a statement.
“The decision to conduct these strikes was made earlier today by the U.S. Central Command commander under authorization granted him by the commander in chief. We will provide more details later as operationally appropriate,” Kirby said.
The United Arab Emirates, one of the five Arab nations also participating in the airstrikes, is not new to such operations: It was involved, alongside Egypt, in airstrikes against Libya in August. There is no news of western nations like France, which participated in airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq, joining U.S. forces in Syria.
In a televised national address on Sept. 10, President Obama had said that “we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are. That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria as well as Iraq,” Obama said. “This is a core principle of my presidency: If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”