Syria to U.S.: Don’t repeat ‘fiasco in Iraq’ with attacks against ISIS
(CNN) — The United States is doing what it must to “take the fight to terrorists,” leading a coalition of Arab nations in a series of airstrikes against the so-called Islamic State terror group in Syria, U.S. President Barack Obama said Tuesday.
At the same time, the United States took action — on its own — against another terrorist organization, the Khorasan Group. Obama described its members as “seasoned al Qaeda operatives in Syria.”
U.S. officials said the group was plotting attacks against the United States and other Western targets.
The plots against the United States were discovered by the intelligence community in the past week, an intelligence source with knowledge of the matter told CNN. The source did not say what the target may have been, but said the plot potentially involved a bomb made of a nonmetallic device like a toothpaste container or clothes dipped in explosive material.
A plot involving concealed bombs on airplanes “was just one option they were looking at,” a U.S. official said.
“Once again, it must be clear to anyone who would plot against America and try to do Americans harm that we will not tolerate safe havens for terrorists who threaten our people,” Obama said in televised remarks from the White House.
But Syria warned the United States not to repeat the “fiasco in Iraq by undertaking the same kind of blind military attacks,” Bashar Ja’afari, Syria’s ambassador to the United Nations, told CNN.
The airstrikes in Syria began early Tuesday morning local time. Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan took part in airstrikes on ISIS targets, the U.S. military said. Qatar played a supporting role, the U.S. military said.
Noting that he had “made clear that America would act as part of a broad coalition,” the President said: “That’s exactly what we’ve done.”
“The strength of this coalition makes it clear to the world that this is not America’s fight alone,” Obama said at the White House. “Above all, the people and governments in the Middle East are rejecting ISIL and standing up for the peace and security that the people of the region and the world deserve.” ISIL is another acronym referring to the terrorist group, which calls itself the Islamic State.
While the President touted the coalition, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a bulletin warning law enforcement agencies to be on heightened alert for lone-wolf terror attacks on U.S. soil in wake of the airstrikes, a U.S. law enforcement official told CNN.
There is bipartisan support in Congress for the U.S. military actions, Obama said, adding that “America is always stronger when we stand united. And that unity sends a powerful message to the world that we will do what’s necessary to defend our country.”