• US, allies step up air strikes in Syria


    DAMASCUS: A US-led alliance launched new air strikes against the Islamic State  (IS) group in Syria on Friday, targeting oil facilities for a second day, as Britain weighed joining the campaign in Iraq.

    The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group reported fresh strikes in the oil-rich eastern province of Deir Ezzor, and northeastern Hasakeh, both of which were also targeted a day earlier.

    Both sets of raids included strikes on oil facilities in the two provinces, where IS jihadists extract crude for sale on the black market.

    Experts say sales of oil from Syria and Iraq are among the group’s biggest source of funding, netting it between $1 million and $3 million a day.

    In Britain, meanwhile, law-makers were preparing to vote on whether the country would join air strikes against the group in Iraq, though par-ticipation in   the strikes on Syria is not on        the table.

    “We are facing an evil against which the whole world must unite. And, as ever in the cause of freedom, democracy and justice, Britain will play its part,” Prime Minister David Cameron told a United Nations summit in New York, before flying home for the vote.

    Cameron has urged Britain not to be “frozen with fear” about re-entering conflict in a country that its troops only left in 2011.

    US seeks abroad coalition
    Washington is eager to build the broadest possible coalition to tackle IS, which has seized large swathes of territory in Syria and neighbouring Iraq, declaring an Islamic “caliphate.”

    Speaking at the UN this week, US President Barack Obama urged greater participation in the alliance against what he dubbed a “network of death.”

    If, as expected, the British parliament votes to take part, the Royal Air Force will join jets from the United States, France, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Jordan hitting IS targets.

    Both France and Britain have ruled out carrying strikes in Syria, however, unlike the Arab allies taking part in the aerial campaign.

    Belgium and the Netherlands also plan to send six F-16 fighter bombers to take part in the campaign in Iraq.

    The Netherlands will also deploy 250 military personnel and 130 trainers for the Iraqi military, and Greece said it would send arms to Kurdish forces battling the jihadists.

    Turkey has so far declined to take part in military action, and denied claims its airspace or airbases have been used by coalition forces.

    But Obama spoke to Pre-sident Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday and in New York the Turkish leader suggested for   the first time that his country could offer logistical, intelli-gence or even military support to the operations.

    Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, however, blamed Western “blunders” for creating extremist havens, and said outside interference would not solve the problem.

    “The right solution to this quandary comes from within the region with international support and not from outside,” he told the United Nations General Assem-bly, warning otherwise there would be “repercussions for the whole world.”



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