US carrier group conducts anti-ISIS strikes in Syria & Iraq from Mediterranean
The US Navy Strike Group has begun hitting Islamic State terrorist targets in Iraq and Syria from the eastern Mediterranean Sea after a two-month gap to “demonstrate the tremendous warfighting capability and flexibility” of the Navy.
The US armada, which includes the flagship aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush, arrived in the Mediterranean Sea on February 2. It replaced the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group, which last struck Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) targets on December 12.
After a two month period, the US Navy launched carrier-based strikes in support of Operation Inherent Resolve from the Mediterranean using the 6th Fleet arsenal usually headquartered in Naples, Italy.
“The precision strike operations being carried out by the Bush Carrier Strike Group in the eastern Mediterranean Sea continue to demonstrate the tremendous warfighting capability and flexibility of the US Navy,” commander of the US 6th Fleet, Vice Adm. Christopher W. Grady said.
The Navy failed to disclose the number of sorties conducted on Monday or the exact locations of the targets.
“By defeating violent extremists in Iraq and Syria, we are simultaneously supporting two separate geographic combatant commands. We remain committed to defeating Daesh, committed to our allies and partners, and committed to global security,” Grady added.
Previously, the George H.W. Bush Strike Group was deployed in the Navy's 5th Fleet area of command in the Persian Gulf. Now the group will handle the area of operations previously administered by the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group. The previous strike group deployed to the area (from June 28-July 7, 2016, and December 6-12, 2016), completed some 1,899 sorties in support of the US-led operation. The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and the strike group returned to Norfolk on December 30 after a seven-month deployment.
Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) is the codename for the US military's intervention against the Islamic State which began in Iraq in June 2014 and two months later in Syria. As of February 7, the US-led coalition of 68 states has conducted a total of 18,081 strikes, with 11,050 strikes in Iraq and 7,031 in Syria. The US has carried out the majority of the targeting, conducting some 14,185 strikes.
Washington under President Barack Obama's leadership has never bothered to get any approval from Damascus for the military intervention, unlike the Russian Air Force which was officially invited by the Syrian government to drive out the terrorists.
Last week, Syrian President Bashar Assad said US troops would be welcome in his country provided they work together with the government. At the same time, he accused the US of meddling in his country’s internal affairs and supporting the extremists who would then go on to form Islamic State.