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What are the goals of the US-led strikes in Syria?




President Barack Obama delivers a statement on the first US bombing of the so-called Islamic State group and Al-Qaeda at the White House in Washington, DC, September 23, 2014.
President Barack Obama delivers a statement on the first US bombing of the so-called Islamic State group and Al-Qaeda at the White House in Washington, DC, September 23, 2014.
JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

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Early Tuesday morning, the U.S. and its Arab allies launched airstrikes on targets in Syria, marking an escalation in the military response to Islamist militants in the region.

President Barack Obama called the strikes part of a broader strategy and noted a specific "imminent threat" from an Al Qaeda-related group operating inside Syria, called Khorasan.

Speaking from the White House Tuesday morning, Obama said the goals were "to take out terrorist targets, to train and equip Iraqi and Syrian opposition fighters who are going up against ISIL on the ground, to cut off ISIL financing, to counter its hateful ideology and to stop the flow of fighters into and out of the region."

The Pentagon called the strikes successful, but the Obama Administration said completing the mission wouldn't happen overnight. Still, Sebastian Usher, Middle East editor for the BBC, said the U.S. sent a strong message.  

“They’ve made clear both today and in the lead-up that this is a long, long process that isn’t going to achieve results quickly, and it probably isn’t going to achieve results just from the airstrikes,” Usher said. “I think that was the message that ISIS, the Islamic State, was — know that there are no safe havens.”

In his speech, President Obama emphasized that the United States was not alone in taking action. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Bahrain joined in the strikes, while Qatar was involved in hosting the U.S. central command and operations, according to Usher.

“Certainly President Obama wants to show [Americans], the Middle East and the whole world that the U.S. is not doing this alone,” Usher said. “That is, from a U.S. perspective, very important to show that. I don't think it will convince people who are edging towards sympathy with the ideology of Islamic State because they have already dismissed countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar.”