In Raqa province, the Syrian air force Sunday carried out 16 raids on the city of Raqa and several more on the town of Tabqa, killing at least 31 jihadists and eight civilians.
“The regime wants to show the Americans that it is also capable of striking the IS,” said the Britain-based group’s director, Rami Abdel Rahman.
British Prime Minister David Cameron described the Islamic State fighters sweeping across Syria and Iraq as a direct threat to Britain, and said all available tools must be used to halt their advance.
Cameron, writing in the Sunday Telegraph, said that while it would not be right to send an army into Iraq, some degree of military involvement was justified due to the threat that an expanding “terrorist state” would pose to Europe and its allies.
– ‘Extreme form of terrorism’ –
His Defence Minister Michael Fallon, in comments published Monday, said Britain’s Iraq involvement now goes beyond a humanitarian mission and is set to last for months.
“We and other countries in Europe are determined to help the government of Iraq combat this new and very extreme form of terrorism,” he was quoted as saying.
Two months of violence have brought Iraq to the brink of breakup, and world powers relieved by the exit of divisive premier Nuri al Maliki are sending aid to the hundreds of thousands who have fled their homes as well as arms to the Kurdish peshmerga forces.
In the north, members of minority groups including the Yazidis, Christians, Shabak and Turkmen, remain under threat of kidnapping or death at the hands of the jihadists.
Human rights groups and residents say IS fighters have been demanding that religious minorities in the Mosul region either convert or leave, unleashing violent reprisals on any who refuse.
Amnesty International, which has been documenting mass abductions in the Sinjar area, says IS has kidnapped thousands of Yazidis in this month’s offensive.
Tens of thousands have fled, most of them seeking refuge in areas of northern Iraq still under Kurdish control, or in neighbouring Syria.