TAMPA, Fla., Sept. 23 (UPI) -- Airstrikes in Syria by the United States and five Arab countries in the region targeted the Islamic State and the al-Qaida-aligned Khorasan.
The heavy concentration of bombs, launched from the air and sea, centered on the defacto IS headquarters in the Syrian city of Raqqa, as well as bases, checkpoints and training centers of the militant Islamic group in at least four Syrian provinces, U.S. military officials said.
The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an advocacy group, said five provinces were targeted.
It is the first major offensive against IS in Syria. The wave of fighter planes, cruise missiles and bombers struck 14 targets, and was not coordinated with the Syrian government.
Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Qatar joined the United States in the action, although it is unclear of their level of involvement. Their presence, a diplomatic achievement, is regarded as an indication the United States is not unilaterally waging war against a Muslim population.
"Prominent religious leaders have said ISIS (the Islamic State) is not representative of Islam, and now you have countries that are coming to the fore to attack it," noted former CIA counterterrorism official Phillip Mudd.
U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Fla., announced Tuesday action was also taken in the Aleppo region of Syria to "disrupt the imminent attack plotting against the United States and Western interests. These strikes were undertaken only by U.S. assets," a reference to Khorasan, a new militant group in Syria. While U.S. airstrikes against IS have been conducted in Iraq, Tuesday's action was the first in Syria.