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US AV-8B Harrier jet launches to fight jihadists in Syria US missile cruiser launches a cruise missile against Islamic State targets in Syria
The Islamic State group has reinforced fighters who are battling Kurdish forces for control of a Syrian city at the border with Turkey, a Kurdish military official said.
Ocalan Iso, deputy leader of the Kurdish forces defending the town of Kobane at the Turkish border, said more IS fighters and tanks had arrived since the US-led coalition began air strikes on the group.
“The number of their fighters has increased, the number of their tanks has increased since the bombardment of Raqqa,” Mr Iso said.
IS-controlled territory in the city and province of Raqqa was hit in the air strikes on Tuesday.
He said Islamic State forces had advanced to within 8km from the southern periphery of Kobane, which is also known as Ayn al-Arab – closer than they had been at any stage.
Earlier, air strikes overnight hit IS territory in Syria near the Turkish border, an organisation that tracks violence in the Syrian war said.
Rami Abdulrahman, who runs the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the warplanes that carried out the raids west of the city of Kobane, had come from the direction of Turkey.
He added that they were not Syrian.
The observatory gathers its information from a network of activists across Syria.
A US-led alliance launched air strikes on IS in Syria on Monday night.
Meanwhile, the UN envoy for Syria has called the fight against jihadists in Syria “a game changer”, and said US air strikes could even help ease humanitarian needs.
“In order to move at the moment there is obviously a game changer and the game changer is Daesh and the fight against Daesh,” Staffan de Mistura told reporters at UN headquarters, referring to IS by the Arabic acronym for the group’s full original name.
He said the current period was “delicate” and “dangerous” but that the priority was to care for the 11 million Syrians desperately in need of aid despite the welter of crises facing the world.
Asked if US air strikes would exacerbate the situation on the ground, Mr de Mistura said he had no indication so far that the air campaign was affecting humanitarian assistance.
“On the contrary, I think that if there was any kind of reduction of the pressure by Daesh on the local population, we’ll have less, a little bit, moving across (the border) and therefore less of an urgent need of humanitarian assistance.”
Elsewhere, British Prime Minister David Cameron has said Britain cannot opt out of a battle against IS jihadists, as newspapers reported he was considering joining air strikes targeting the group.
“This is a fight you cannot opt out of. These people want to kill us,” Mr Cameron told an interview with NBC News.
He said the militants had planned attacks in Europe and elsewhere.
“They’ve got us in their sights and we have to put together this coalition, working with radical support … to make sure that we ultimately destroy this evil organisation,” he said.
IS militants have killed hundreds of people in the swathes of Iraq and Syria under the group’s control, forced more than one million from their homes in Iraq, and beheaded a numer of foreign hostages.
Mr Cameron has given his backing to air strikes and missile attacks against the jihadist group by the United States and Arab allies, but has so far limited British involvement to arming Kurdish fighters and supportive roles.