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The ISIS Finance Centre, targeted yesterday. AP/Press Association Images

Islamic State oil refineries hit in latest air strikes

Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama led the UN Security Council in approving a resolution demanding that countries take action to stem the flow of foreign jihadists to Iraq and Syria.

THE UNITED STATES, joined by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, resumed bombing raids against Islamic State jihadists in Syria today, with warplanes targeting oil refineries held by the group.

The US-led air strikes for the first time hit oil installations in eastern Syria in a bid to undercut a key source of income for the IS group, which relies on sales from smuggled crude oil to middlemen across the region.

The latest round of air raids focused on 12 targets in eastern Syria, where the IS extremists control small-scale oil refineries, Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told CNN.

“These 12 targets were what we call modular oil refineries,” Kirby said.

They were struck with precision-guided missiles by coalition aircraft. In fact, there were more coalition aircraft in the skies on these particular missions than US (planes).

Kirby confirmed that aircraft from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates took part in the latest raids.

The well-funded IS extremists have seized several oil fields in Syria and rudimentary refineries, enabling them to sell smuggled crude oil at cheap prices through intermediaries in Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Jordan.

Analysts say the group operates in a similar manner to a mafia and uses kidnapping ransoms, extortion and robbery — in addition to oil smuggling — for its funding.

The United States launched an air campaign against the IS group in Iraq last month and expanded the strikes into Syria early Tuesday, with five Arab countries joining a coalition effort.

Jihad action

Obama United Nations AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama led the UN Security Council in approving a resolution demanding that countries take action to stem the flow of foreign jihadists to Iraq and Syria.

The resolution unanimously approved by the 15-member council requires all nations to adopt laws that would make it a serious crime for their nationals to join jihadist groups such as Islamic State (IS) and Al-Nusra Front.

Obama described the measure as “historic” at a special session of the Council, only the sixth time in UN history that the top world body was convening at the level of heads of state.

Obama however cautioned that “resolutions alone will not be enough” and urged governments to work towards choking off the flow of foreign fighters to Iraq and Syria “not just in the days ahead, but for years to come.”

The US-drafted resolution demands that governments take action against nationals who travel or make plans to travel to a country to join jihadist groups and also makes it illegal to collect funds for recruitment.

About 15,000 foreign fighters from 80 countries have joined the ranks of jihadists in Syria, according to US intelligence estimates.

The call for action against foreign jihadists is fueled by fears that new terror networks will emerge from the Syria-Iraq front, much in the same way that the September 11, 2001 attacks were linked to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.

The binding resolution falls under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which means the measures could be enforced by economic sanctions or military force.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said that at least 500 British citizens had joined jihadist ranks in a conflict that “is sucking in our own young people, from modern, prosperous societies.”

Experts say the overwhelming majority of foreign fighters now in Syria and Iraq are from the Middle East and Arab countries, with Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Morocco topping the list.

- © AFP, 2012

Read: New video shows beheading of Frenchman by Islamic State militants>

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