US strikes ISIS oil refineries in Syria

2014-09-25 11:33
US Navy F-18E Super Hornets in flight after receiving fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker over northern Iraq. (Shawn Nickel, AFP)

US Navy F-18E Super Hornets in flight after receiving fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker over northern Iraq. (Shawn Nickel, AFP)

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United Nations - The United States bombed ISIS-controlled oil refineries in Syria on Wednesday as President Barack Obama recruited more allies to fight the jihadist "network of death".

US, Saudi and Emirati warplanes broadened their bombardment to target the oil installations 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 of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group, which has grabbed vast areas of Iraq and Syria.

"Today I ask the world to join in this effort."

"We will use our military might in a campaign of air strikes to roll back ISIL[ISIS]," Obama declared.

Overnight on Tuesday to Wednesday, US 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 US-led bombardment again - as they had on Monday - as the target list was expanded to include economic assets.

Oil refineries targeted

The latest round of air raids focused on 12 targets in eastern Syria, where the ISIS extremists control small-scale oil refineries.

"These 12 targets were what we call modular oil refineries," Pentagon spokesperson Rear Admiral John Kirby told CNN.

"They were struck with precision-guided missiles by coalition aircraft. In fact, there were more coalition aircraft in the skies on these particular missions than US [planes]," he said.

Alongside US aviation and cruise missiles, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan have hit targets in Syria and France in Iraq. Qatar is providing logistical support.

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 US-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.

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, which was overrun by ISIS militants in a brutal campaign of beheadings and forced religious conversions.

The Belgian parliament must still approve the move, which follows a formal request from Washington on Tuesday, Defence 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 joining the strikes, as requested by Baghdad.

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 the ISIS radicals.

Read more on:    al-qaeda  |  al-nusra  |  un  |  isis  |  barack obama  |  francois hollande  |  david cameron  |  syria  |  us  |  iraq

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