‘IS us­ing kids as hu­man shields to stop airstrikes’

CityPress - - News -

The Is­lamic State (IS) has al­legedly re­sorted to us­ing hu­man shields, par­tic­u­larly chil­dren, to pre­vent the US-led coali­tion from car­ry­ing out airstrikes in key ar­eas such as Ra­madi in Iraq, ac­cord­ing to a se­nior US of­fi­cial this week.

In a me­dia brief­ing at the White House hours af­ter the bombers be­gan hit­ting tar­gets in east­ern Syria, the of­fi­cial said fight­ers were us­ing chil­dren as es­corts while ma­noeu­vring in the street, re­ported CBS News.

By yes­ter­day it was not clear if any civil­ians had been killed or in­jured dur­ing the joint air at­tack by US and UK forces. The at­tack started on Thurs­day.

Mean­while, the IS has claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for Wed­nes­day’s mas­sacre at a cen­tre for the dis­abled in San Ber­nadino, Cal­i­for­nia, in which 14 peo­ple were killed. It said the mar­ried cou­ple who car­ried out the at­tack fol­lowed the IS.

The Daily Mail re­ported that the FBI an­nounced it was now in­ves­ti­gat­ing the shoot­ings – al­legedly car­ried out by Syed Rizwan Fa­rook (28) and his wife, Tash­feen Ma­lik (27) – in which 21 peo­ple were in­jured as an “act of ter­ror”. A duf­fel bag stuffed with home-made pipe bombs was found at the cou­ple’s home.

Mean­while, The Wall Street Jour­nal re­ported yes­ter­day that four Bri­tish Tor­nado bombers took off from the Royal Air Force base in Cyprus and used laser-guided bombs to hit six tar­gets in the Omar oil­fields early on Thurs­day morn­ing. Th­ese oil­fields are con­trolled by the IS.

Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron said on Wed­nes­day – af­ter MPs voted by 397 to 223 in favour of send­ing the jets to seek out IS tar­gets in Syria – that the ter­ror group was us­ing the fields to fund at­tacks on the West.

The BBC re­ported on Thurs­day that more Bri­tish planes had been sent to the Cyprus base in an­tic­i­pa­tion of fur­ther airstrikes in Syria. Bri­tish De­fence Sec­re­tary Michael Fal­lon told the broad­caster that eight more jets – two Tor­na­dos and six Typhoons – had been sent to join the at­tacks.

“I can con­firm that four Bri­tish Tor­na­dos were in ac­tion af­ter the vote last night at­tack­ing oil­fields in east­ern Syria – the Omar oil­fields – from which the Daesh [Is­lamic State] ter­ror­ists re­ceive a huge part of their rev­enue.

“This strikes a very real blow at the oil and the rev­enue on which the Daesh ter­ror­ists de­pend,” said Fal­lon.

The UK is on high alert af­ter un­con­firmed me­dia re­ports said the IS was plan­ning to at­tack. Euro­pean se­cu­rity agen­cies cited spe­cific in­tel­li­gence that had been ob­tained, which said that Bri­tish IS op­er­a­tives in Syria and Iraq were be­ing tasked with re­turn­ing home to launch an at­tack.

Bri­tain’s The Tele­graph news­pa­per also re­ported that one of the gun­men be­hind the Paris at­tacks re­port­edly vis­ited two Bri­tish cities in the run-up to the at­tack in which 130 peo­ple were killed last month.

Coun­tert­er­ror­ism of­fi­cials es­tab­lished that the man, who has not been pub­licly iden­ti­fied, trav­elled to the UK ear­lier this year. They also found that a string of phone calls were made by one or more of the IS-in­spired gun­men in the runup to the at­tack.

The man was thought to have slipped briefly into the UK and trav­elled to Lon­don, Birm­ing­ham and Kent, where he was un­der­stood to have met in­di­vid­u­als sus­pected of be­ing ca­pa­ble of plot­ting or as­sist­ing ter­ror­ist ac­tiv­ity in Bri­tain.

– Staff re­porter

PHOTO: REUTERS

BLOODY SCENE A po­lice­man re­moves a gun from the site where Syed Rizwan Fa­rook and Tash­feen Ma­lik were shot dead in San Bernardino, Cal­i­for­nia, this week

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