The US began airstrikes in Syria today, fulfilling president Barack Obama’s vow to “degrade and destroy” the extremist group that calls itself the Islamic State. The Pentagon said it deployed bombers, fighters, armed drones, and cruise missiles against IS forces in the group’s de facto capital of Raqqa, Syria and along the Iraq border. Military aircraft from Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates took part in the strikes, US officials told the New York Times.
The military operations within Syria bring the confirmed number of countries targeted by US airstrikes since September 11, 2001—either by conventional planes and missiles, or by armed drones—to seven. In addition to Syria they include: the long-running US military campaigns in Iraq (which has now been bombed by four consecutive US presidential administrations, dating back to 1991) and Afghanistan; drone attacks on Islamist militant groups in Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan; and NATO-led operations against ousted Libyan dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi.
Update: The New York Times reported in 2012 that the US carried out a drone strike in the Philippines in 2006, firing “a barrage of Hellfire missiles from a Predator” in an unsuccessful attempt to kill an Indonesian terrorist. The allegation was denied by US and Philippine officials. An opinion column published by the Brookings Institute in 2012 makes further claims that a US “drone war” is being carried out in the southern Philippine islands.