Syria air strikes: US launches further strikes against Isis as David Cameron pushes UK closer to military action

David Cameron is in New York to attend the UN General Assembly, as Ed Miliband says he is 'open the possibility' of air strikes against Isis

The United States has launched another round of air strikes against Isis today, as Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron edges the UK closer to military action.

Five air strikes – including one in the Syrian town of Qaim and four in Iraq – helped to destroy at least eight vehicles used by the militant group as well as a weapons cache, officials said.

Speaking to the United Nations in New York this afternoon, President Obama said that the coalition will help to “dismantle this network of death” currently waged by Isis (also known as the Islamic State), and warned those who have joined the group to “leave the battlefield while they can”.

He added: “No God condones this terror. No grievance justifies these actions. There can be no reasoning – no negotiation – with this brand of evil. The only language understood by killers like this is the language of force.”

The US launched 200 air strikes against Isis in Syria for the first time on Tuesday - with support from the five Arab nations of Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates - after weeks of targeting the jihadist group in Iraq only.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Boukamal, also near the border, experienced at least 10 air strikes in and around it since the strikes began, which is supported by a statement from Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby who said that strikes there hit a staging area used by the fighters to move equipment across into Iraq.

It comes as Britain's parliament is expected to be recalled on Friday so that MPs can discuss its position on a military response.

Speaking in New York, where he is attending the United Nations General Assembly, Mr Cameron said that this was "a fight you cannot opt out of”.

AN52916425United States Pre.jpg
President Obama addresses the United Nations this afternoon

He told TV channel NBC: “These people want to kill us. They've got us in their sights and we have to put together this coalition... to make sure that we ultimately destroy this evil organisation.”

While at the UN, he is likely to receive a formal request from Iraq’s new inclusive administration, led by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, for help in launching air strikes against the militant group. Britain’s allies, the US and France, are already engaged in a military assault.

Parliament is expected to be recalled on Friday, the BBC reports, to discuss the UK’s strengthening response to the jihadists and to seek MPs’ approval for action.

 

Ed Miliband told BBC Breakfast  this morning that he is “open to the possibility” of backing air strikes against Isis - in far contrast to David Cameron's failed attempt at garnering support for strikes against Syria's government in August 2013.

"[Isis] is a threat that can't be turned away from," he added. "How will I judge any proposal? Whether Britain can have an effect, whether we can succeed and whether it is legitimate and lawful. But I am open to the possibility."

"Before I commit British combat troops I want to look at what the proposition is and the nature of that proposition."

Britain has already armed the Kurdish fighters who have sought to repel Isis’ assault in northern Iraq, while also supplying Baghdad with weaponry, ammunition and surveillance support.

A spokesman for the US military said Tuesday's and Wednesday's air strikes were “only the beginning”, according to Reuters, while al-Qaeda’s Syrian outpost, Nusra Front, confirmed today that it has evacuated some of its bases in north-west Syria following the strikes.

Syrian government minister Ali Haidar said the US-led attacks are “proceeding in the right direction” by not targeting government forces or civilians.

Mr Cameron added in New York: “There are other plots they have been attempting, including in my own country, in order to kill and maim innocent people. And the same applies to the United States of America.”

Military involvement would be limited to Iraq, with the UK making it clear it will not co-operate with Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria.

Isis has acquired large swathes of northern Iraq and eastern Syria, with David Cameron expected to seek the membership of Iran in a newly-formed coalition against the group.

At the UN, Mr Cameron’s bilateral meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani underscores the Prime Minister’s intentions to involve regional states in the quest to destroy Isis.

However, he will not waver in his views against Iran’s nuclear ambitions and its support for groups condemned as terrorists in the west.

“I will be very clear. We think they are wrong to have this nuclear weapon programme. We think they are wrong to support terrorist organisations,” Mr Cameron added to NBC.

“It'll be a tough conversation. I'm not saying that my enemy's enemy is my friend. I don't believe that.

“But the fact is if we want to have a successful, democratic, pluralistic Iraq and if we want to have a successful, democratic, pluralistic Syria, Iran can play a constructive role in helping to bring that about.”

Additional reporting by PA