When President Obama spoke two weeks ago about his counter-terrorism strategy towards the Islamic State, he specifically talked about using force to target ISIS "in Syria, as well as Iraq." It was at this point that we knew it was only a matter of time before the U.S. airstrikes began inside Syria.
The United States and a broad coalition of Arab partners launched a predawn attack on Islamist fighters in Syria, the Pentagon announced Monday, using bombers and cruise missiles in the first such strike on the Middle Eastern country that has been riven for two years by a catastrophic civil war.
The strikes -- part of a U.S. plan to hit up to 20 targets in and around Raqqa, Syria, where the militants have their headquarters -- mark a major escalation in the American military campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which previously had been limited to Iraq.
As NBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel noted last night, the timing of the offensive is important: the airstrikes coincide with the United Nations General Assembly, at which world leaders will consider how best to address the ISIS threat.
There are, of course, more questions than answers, and if you missed Rachel's segment at midnight (ET), it fleshed out many of the key aspects of the debate. For example, are the U.S. airstrikes likely to have the intended effect?
Thus far, the air campaign against ISIS targets in Iraq has been constant for six weeks, but the offensive has "scarcely budged the Sunni extremists." Whether a related campaign in Syria is determinative remains an open question.
Also, to what extent is the United States acting as part of a coalition?
Ayman Mohyeldin, NBC News foreign correspondent, talks with Rachel Maddow about the international political dynamics at play in the U.S. fight against ISIS and how Syria is likely to react to bombings by U.S. partners within its borders. watch
Rep. Adam Smith, ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, talks with Rachel Maddow about the U.S.-led coalition to fight ISIS whether Congress needs to return from its second vacation to debate and vote to authorize the U.S. war on ISIS. watch
Laith Alkhouri of Flashpoint Global Partners, talks with Rachel Maddow about global recruitment efforts by ISIS and how the new airstrikes by U.S. partners inside Syria are likely to affect the terror organization. watch
Anne Gearan, Washington Post diplomatic correspondent, talks with Rachel Maddow about the timing of U.S. coalition airstrikes inside Syria against ISIS targets as world leaders, President Obama included, meet at the UN in New York City. watch
Spencer Ackerman, U.S. national security editor at The Guardian, talks with Rachel Maddow about new reports that Syria was informed by the U.S. before airstrikes against ISIS targets, and how big the operation appears to be by the U.S. and its partners. watch
Steve Clemons, Washington editor-at-large of The Atlantic, talks with Rachel Maddow about whether airstrikes are sufficient to cripple ISIS in Syria and Iraq and what further escalation by both sides will likely look. watch
Reminder: Congress opted to go home for 2 months vs. debate/vote on war authorization (http://t.co/IFSHyeWwNf). Now we're in it.
Andrea Mitchell, NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent, talks with Rachel Maddow about the efforts by the Obama administration to bring regional partners into the fight against ISIS, including Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran. watch
Chris Jansing, NBC News senior White House correspondent, talks with Rachel Maddow about how the White House set the stage for new bombings against ISIS targets in Syria and what this expansion means for increased U.S. personnel in the region. watch
Jim Miklaszewski, NBC News chief Pentagon correspondent, reports on the details of a new bombing campaign by the U.S. and partners of ISIS targets in Syria, and how those airstrikes are likely to be received by Syria. watch
Rachel Maddow reports breaking news that U.S. military aircraft have commenced bombing in Syria. Richard Engel, NBC News chief foreign correspondent, joins to discuss the international ramifications and the pressure on Arab partners to get involved. watch