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US Launches Twin Strikes Against IS From Mediterranean, Gulf

FILE - The amphibious assault ship USS Boxer transits the East Sea during an exercise, March 8, 2016.

FILE - The amphibious assault ship USS Boxer transits the East Sea during an exercise, March 8, 2016.

The United States on Thursday launched simultaneous strikes against Islamic State extremists from the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf, marking the first time the U.S. military had bombed IS targets in Syria and Iraq from both bodies of water.

The USS Boxer amphibious assault carrier began conducting strikes from its location in the Gulf "in concert with the strikes" flown from the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman in the eastern Mediterranean, Navy Captain Keith Moore, commodore of the USS Boxer Amphibious Ready Group, told VOA from aboard the ship shortly after the strikes' completion.

"We're demonstrating the capability to launch at a time and a location of our choosing," Moore said.

Marine Colonel Anthony Henderson, commanding officer of the ship's 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, said two of the ship's Marine AV-8B Harrier jump jets conducted strikes on IS targets in northern Iraq. He was not yet authorized to release the results from those strikes.

WATCH: US Hits Islamic State From Mediterranean and Gulf

The officers said they “expect” similar strike orders to come soon.

“We’re on station for the next several days, in position and ready to conduct strikes,” Moore said.

Thursday was the first time the Boxer was used to launch airstrikes against the Islamic State.

Two other amphibious carrier ships, the USS Essex and USS Kearsarge, carried out 90 strikes against the militant group before the Truman moved into the Mediterranean, according to a Navy official.

The officers aboard the ship called the coalition’s airstrikes “vital” and a “key help to the Iraqi Security Forces.”

Moore said morale aboard his ship was “sky high” after the Marine jump jets returned from carrying out the strikes.

“There is nothing like doing something important to drive home why we do what we do, so there is an invigorated sense of purpose and pride on board,” he said.

The Truman has been striking targets in both Iraq and Syria.

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    Carla Babb

    Carla is VOA's Pentagon correspondent covering defense and international security issues. Her datelines include Ukraine, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Korea.