U.S.-led forces strike Islamic State again in Syria, Iraq
The United States and Arab partners conducted eight airstrikes against militant positions across northern Syria on Sunday and Monday, destroying armed vehicles, extremist compounds and a training camp, among other targets, the Pentagon said.
But no new U.S. attacks were reported near the besieged northern Syrian border town of Ayn-al-Arab, known as Kobane in Kurdish. Kobane has been facing a militant onslaught from three sides for more than a week, forcing some 150,000 mostly Kurdish Syrians to flee to neighboring Turkey.
The U.S. air campaign struck militant targets near Kobane for the first time on Saturday. Kurdish activists have called for international intervention to avoid Kobane being overrun by Islamic extremists approaching from the east, south and west.
On Monday, the Syrian opposition reported, militants who are now within a few miles of Kobane unleashed fresh shelling on the town, which is being defended by a Kurdish Syrian militia force. The secular Kurdish forces defending Kobane say they are out-gunned by the heavily armed Islamist militants.
The latest airstrikes in Syria are part of President Obama’s declared strategy to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the Islamic State group. The Al Qaeda breakaway faction has seized vast stretches of territory inside Syria and neighboring Iraq.
U.S.-led airstrikes against militant positions inside Syria began last week. In Iraq, U.S. warplanes and drones have been targeting Islamic State positions since mid-August.
In the latest attacks inside Syrian territory, the U.S. Central Command said that fighter jets and remotely piloted drones again struck across a broad swath of the country, from Aleppo in the northwest to Raqqa in north-central Syria to Dair Elzur in the east. Targets included a former air base near Aleppo, two military vehicles near Dair Elzur, and enemy “compounds” near Raqqa, considered the capital of the Islamic State group.
Also hit, the Pentagon said, were a training camp and vehicles adjacent to a grain storage facility near the militant-held town of Manbij, northeast of Aleppo.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based group aligned with the Syrian opposition, told the Associated Press that civilians were killed in the airstrikes near the grain silos in Manbij. But the group had no specifics on casualties.
“They killed only civilians there, workers at the site,” the observatory director, Rami Abdul Rahman, told the Associated Press, adding that the attacks also “destroyed the food that was stored there.”
There was no immediate response from the Pentagon on the reports of civilian casualties.
Participating along with U.S. forces in the latest Syrian bombardment, the Pentagon said, were two Arab allies, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.
In Iraq, meantime, U.S. Central Command said a pair of airstrikes near the northern cities of Kirkuk and Sinjar destroyed four militant vehicles. Another strike in northwest Iraq targeting an extremist vehicle “was unsuccessful,” the Pentagon said.
Follow @mdcneville for news from Iraq and Syria
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