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US Strikes Syrian Oil Fields as Obama Rallies World at UN

Wednesday, 24 September 2014 04:55 PM

The United States unleashed a new round of bombings on Islamic State targets in Syria on Wednesday as President Barack Obama recruited more allies to fight the jihadist "network of death."

U.S., Saudi and Emirati warplanes broadened their bombardment to target the oil fields in eastern Syria that have helped fund the jihadist group's brutal rise from rebel faction to alleged global threat.

The strikes came as Obama urged leaders gathered at the UN General Assembly to join his coalition and convinced the Security Council to back a resolution to stem the flow of foreign fighters.

Belgium and the Netherlands committed warplanes to Iraq and Britain said its parliament would vote 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."

Meanwhile, an ISIS-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.

Overnight Tuesday to Wednesday, U.S. air raids targeted ISIS fighters threatening the Kurdish regional capital in Iraq and damaged eight militant vehicles operating in eastern Syria near the Iraqi border.

Then as night fell again on Wednesday, Arab jets joined the U.S.-led bombardment again, as they had on Monday, as the target list was expanded to include economic assets.

"These operations are ongoing so we will not provide additional details at this time," Rear Admiral John Kirby said.

Militant-held oil facilities were among the targets attacked in Syria, two U.S. defense officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP.

At the United Nations, Obama and French President Francois Hollande led international condemnation of the murder of the French hiker, 55-year-old Herve Gourdel, by the ISIS-linked Jund al-Khilifa.

Paris opposed the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq but has sent Rafale fighters into action over Iraq, but not to the parallel campaign in Syria, and Hollande vowed not to give in to the ISIS group.

"The fight against terrorism must continue and be stepped up," Hollande said.

ISIS militants in Syria had already killed two American journalists and a British aid worker, but Gourdel's death was the first at the hands of an allied group outside the core area since the U.S. campaign began.

Obama said the United States stood with France and chaired a UN Security Council meeting which unanimously adopted a binding resolution to turn back the flow of foreign fighters heading to Iraq and Syria.

It requires all countries to adopt laws that would make it a serious crime for their nationals to join jihadist groups such as Islamic State and Al-Nusra Front, or risk economic sanctions or military action.

Jordan's King Abdullah II, whose country is sheltering nearly 1.4 million Syrians, told the UN General Assembly there had to be a collective strategy to defeat militants who threaten global security.

In their capitals, Belgium and the Netherlands said they would each send six F-16 fighter bombers to join the air campaign in Iraq.

Apart from the F-16s, the Netherlands will also deploy 250 military personnel and 130 trainers for the Iraqi military. The Belgian parliament must still approve the move, which follows a formal request from Washington on Tuesday, Defense Minister Pieter De Crem said.

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

U.S. aircraft have carried out 198 air strikes against the jihadist group in Iraq since Aug. 8 and more than 20 in Syria since Monday.

Al-Qaeda's Syrian branch, the Al-Nusra Front, an ISIS rival that has also been targeted, said it was evacuating its bases and positions in the northeastern Syrian province of Idlib.

In New York, Obama hailed the "political vision" and inclusive nature of new Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi as the two leaders met for the first time. He used his talks with Abadi to portray the new prime minister as the right kind of leader for Iraq as it struggles to expel radicals from the Islamic State group from its territory with the help of U.S. strikes.

© AFP 2020

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The United States unleashed a new round of bombings on Islamic State targets in Syria on Wednesday as President Barack Obama recruited more allies to fight the jihadist network of death. U.S., Saudi and Emirati warplanes broadened their bombardment to target the oil...
Syria, airstrikes, Arab, partners
Wednesday, 24 September 2014 04:55 PM
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