Roundup of anti-jihadist campaign in Iraq and Syria

AFP| Last Updated: Oct 08, 2014, 19:43 PM IST

Here is a roundup of developments on Wednesday in the international campaign against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

The United States, which heads the coalition, first launched strikes in Iraq on August 8 and widened its action on September 23 to include Syria, where the IS group is based.

So far, the coalition has attracted dozens of countries, and a handful of Arab allies -- Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates -- are participating in the strikes on Syria.

Five European countries, Canada and Australia have committed aircraft to Iraq. The European countries are Belgium, Britain, Denmark, France and The Netherlands.
 

Latest Coalition Strikes and Battles:

- In Syria, coalition aircraft targeted IS units that are trying to take the Kurdish town of Kobane, known in Arabic as Ain al-Arab.

The first air strike sent a cloud of thick black smoke billowing above a hill on the eastern side of Kobane, an AFP correspondent reported from the nearby Turkish border.

The second strike, a few hours later, was on the town`s northeastern side.

The air strikes helped Kurdish fighters push IS jihadists back from part of Kobane, but did not prevent a new assault on eastern areas.

Mortar and sustained automatic weapons fire could be heard clearly from the Turkish side.

Mustafa Ebdi, a Kurdish journalist and activist from Kobane, wrote on Facebook that "the streets of the Maqtala neighbourhood in southeastern Kobane are full of the bodies of Daesh fighters", using the Arabic acronym for IS.

Ebdi maintained that hundreds of civilians remained in Kobane, but other sources have said it was empty of non-combatants.

- In Iraq, an army helicopter crashed near a major oil refinery that is a frequent target for jihadists, killing the crew, a senior officer said.

The cause of the crash near Baiji, some 200 kilometres (120 miles) north of Baghdad, was not immediately clear, but residents in Seiniye, where the helicopter went down, said it had been hit by jihadist fire.

Toll:

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 412 people have died since IS launched its assault on Kobane on September 16, but the final toll might be considerably higher.
 

Other Developments:

- UN envoy Staffan de Mistura pressed the international community late Tuesday to "act now" to defend Kobane, while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that a ground operation was needed to defeat IS.

- France said it backed a proposal by Ankara to create a safe zone along its border with Syria to ensure Turkey`s security and host refugees.

- US President Barack Obama is to meet military chiefs to discuss where things stand in the coalition battle against the jihadists.

- Tension is high in southeastern Turkey following violent demonstrations by Kurds against Ankara`s refusal to intervene in Syria that left 14 people dead.

A curfew was declared in six Turkish provinces for the first time since 1992.

- In northern Germany, clashes broke out between members of the Kurdish and Yazidi communities and Islamic militants.

- In Canada, lawmakers formally approved late Tuesday participation by the country`s armed forces in the international coalition in Iraq.

- The European Union is to ask Internet giants such as Google, Facebook and Twitter to help fight online religious extremists.