Syria said Tuesday that Washington informed President Bashar Assad’s government before a U.S.-led military coalition launched airstrikes pounding strongholds of the Islamic State extremists across northern and eastern Syria.

Damascus appeared to be trying to position itself as on the side of the international coalition as the opening salvo hit in what President Barack Obama has warned will be a lengthy campaign aiming to defeat the extremists who have seized control of a huge swath of territory spanning the Syria-Iraq border. In contrast, Syria’s allies Iran and Russia condemned the strikes.

One Syrian activist group reported that dozens of Islamic State group fighters were killed in the pre-dawn strikes, but the numbers could not be independently confirmed. Several activists also reported at least 10 civilians killed as well. […]