US, allies resume Syria air strikes

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BEIRUT: A series of strikes in Syria overnight by a US-led coalition killed 14 jihadists from the Islamic State (IS) group and five civilians, a monitoring group said on Thursday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the militants were killed in strikes in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, and the civilians died in raids in northeastern Hasakeh.

The strikes largely targeted oil facilities captured by the Islamic State group (IS), though Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said at least one IS checkpoint was among the targets hit during the night.

Among the civilians killed in Hasakeh was a child, he added.


On Wednesday, Pentagon officials announced that the US and Arab allies had resumed bombing raids that began a day earlier, hitting oil facilities held by IS.

Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told CNN that the raids focused on 12 targets he described as “modular oil refineries.”

IS militants have seized a series of oil facilities and fields and are believed to sell oil on the black market to bring in revenue.

The overnight strikes involved aircraft from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, members of the US-led coalition, Pentagon officials said.

The strikes came as Obama urged leaders gathered at the United Nations General Assembly to join his coalition and convinced the Security Council to back a resolution to stem the flow of foreign fighters that has swelled the IS ranks.

Belgium and the Netherlands committed warplanes to Iraq and Britain said its parliament would vote on Friday on following suit.

“The United States of America will work with a broad coalition to dismantle this network of death,” Obama told the UN about the Islamic State group, which has grabbed vast areas of Iraq and Syria.

“Today I ask the world to join in this effort,” he added.

Meanwhile, an IS-linked group in Algeria which had demanded France halt its participation in the strikes posted video footage of the execution of an abducted Frenchman.

“We will use our military might in a campaign of air strikes to roll back ISIL,” Obama declared, using the acronym for the former Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, since renamed the Islamic State.

On the sidelines of the assembly, Prime Minister David Cameron said the British parliament would hold an extraordinary session on Friday to vote joining the strikes, as requested by Baghdad.

Cameron, meanwhile, declared Iran could be “part of the solution” in defeating IS jihadists after landmark talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

“Iran’s leaders could help in defeating the threat from ISIL,” Cameron said.

Rouhani, meanwhile, reiterated his scepticism that air strikes alone could successfully defeat “extremely savage and barbaric” jihadists in the region.

“It is not clear for us what they are seeking,” he said in an interview with US broadcaster Charlie Rose when quizzed about US motives in the air campaign.

“But what I can tell you unequivocably, no terrorist group can be eradicated and destroyed through aerial bombardments only,” he added.

AFP

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