U.S.-led air strikes hit a natural gas plant controlled by Islamic State fighters in eastern Syria, a monitoring body reported, part of an apparent campaign to disrupt one of the fighters’ main sources of income.
The monitoring group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said planes also struck a grain silo in northern Syria killing civilians. This could not be immediately confirmed.
U.S.-led strikes have so far failed to halt an advance by fighters in northern Syria on a Kurdish town: fighting raged between Islamic State militants and Kurdish forces near Kobani on the border with Turkey, where the past week’s battle caused the fastest refugee flight of Syria’s three-year civil war. Turkey returned fire after shells hit its side of the frontier.
The United States has been bombing Islamic State and other groups in Syria for nearly a week with the help of Arab allies, and hitting targets in neighboring Iraq since last month.
European countries have joined the campaign in Iraq, where the government has asked for help, but so far not in Syria.
Islamic State, a Sunni militant group which broke off from al Qaeda, alarmed the West and the Middle East by sweeping through northern Iraq in June, slaughtering prisoners and ordering Shi’ites and non-Muslims to convert or die.
It is battling Shi’ite backed governments in both Iraq and Syria, as well as other Sunni groups in Syria and Kurdish groups in both countries, part of complex multi-sided civil wars in which nearly every country in the Middle East has a stake.
The head of Syria’s al Qaeda branch, the Nusra Front, a Sunni militant group which is a rival of Islamic State and has also been targeted by U.S. strikes, said Islamists would carry out attacks on the West in retaliation for the campaign.
“Muslims will not watch while their sons are bombed. Your leaders will not be the only ones who would pay the price of the war. You will pay the heaviest price,” Abu Mohamad al-Golani said in an audio message posted on pro-Nusra forums.