US airstrikes continue in Syria and Iraq

  • Syrian refugees wait at the Syrian-Turkish border near Sanliurfa, Turkey, Sept. 24, 2014. The Islamic State assault against dozens of Kurdish villages in northern Syria could create a mass exodus, with up to 400,000 seeking refuge in neighbouring Turkey, a United Nations official warned. According to Turkish authorities, 138,000 Kurdish Syrians have poured into the country since late last week. It is unclear if the entire population of the region will ultimately end up fleeing, UN refugee agency (UNHCR) spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said. 
  • Turkish military police guards the border area on the Turkish-Syrian border near the southeastern town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province, Sept. 24, 2014. The United Nations refugee agency said on Tuesday it was making contingency plans in case all 400,000 inhabitants of the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani fled into Turkey to escape advancing Islamic State militants. 
  • Syrian Kurdish refugees enter Turkey on Sept. 24, 2014 near Suruc, Turkey.
  • Residents inspect a damaged site in what activists say was a U.S. strike in Kfredrian, Idlib province, Sept. 23, 2014.
  • Syrian refugee children wait at the Syrian-Turkish border near Sanliurfa, Turkey, Sept. 24, 2014. In recent days, Turkey has seen the ‘biggest influx’ of Syrian refugees since the start of the war three years ago, said Selin Unal, a spokeswoman for the UN agency for refugees (UNHCR). Turkey hosts more Syrian refugees than any other country, a UN official said Sept. 24, with the government putting that number at an estimated 1.5 million.
  • Turkish soldiers stand at a position on the Turkish-Syrian border near the southeastern town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province, Sept. 24, 2014. The United Nations refugee agency said on Tuesday it was making contingency plans in case all 400,000 inhabitants of the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani fled into Turkey to escape advancing Islamic State militants. 
  • An Iraqi soldier stands next a machine gun atop a vehicle and bodies of alleged Islamic State fighters at the scene of heavy clashes between Iraqi forces and IS fighters in northern Babil province, southern Iraq, Sept. 23, 2014. The United States and five Arab allies on Sept. launched the first airstrikes in Syria against the Islamic State Sunni extremist group. The US had previously bombed Islamic State targets in Iraq, but said that it would pursue the group in Syria if necessary. 
  • A mortar shell is seen stuck in the ground after landing in the Syrian capital Damascus on Sept. 24, 2014. Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad said that Damascus backed any international effort against “terrorism,” after a US-led coalition against jihadists launched airstrikes in the country, state media reported. 
  • A still image taken from video provided by the U.S. Central Command shows a damaged building at an Islamic State (IS) compound near the northern Syrian town of Ar Raqqah, following an air strike against IS targets, Sept. 23, 2014. The United States and its Arab allies bombed militant groups in Syria for the first time on Tuesday, killing scores of Islamic State fighters, members of a separate al Qaeda-linked group and opening a new front amid shifting Middle East alliances. 
  • A resident walks upon the debris of buildings which were damaged in what activists say was one of Tuesday’s U.S. air strikes in Kfredrian, Idlib province, Sept. 24, 2014. The United States and its Arab allies bombed Syria for the first time on Tuesday, killing scores of Islamic State fighters and members of a separate al Qaeda-linked group, opening a new front against militants by joining Syria’s three-year-old civil war.
  • Syrian refugees who fled from clashes between the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) militants and Democratic Union Party (PYD) forces to Sanliurfa, southeastern province of Turkey, wait to return to Syria through the Mursitpinar border crossing on Sept. 24, 2014. 
  • A Kurdish Syrian refugee rests on the Turkish-Syrian border near the southeastern town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province, Sept. 24, 2014. The United Nations refugee agency said on Tuesday it was making contingency plans in case all 400,000 inhabitants of the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani fled into Turkey to escape advancing Islamic State militants. 

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U.S. and coalition missiles continued to rain down on Islamist targets across the Middle East on Wednesday, the third day of an expanded American military campaign against ISIS militants that now encompasses Syria as well as Iraq.

Those strikes included multiple U.S.-led attacks on ISIS vehicles, weapons caches and troop positions in both countries, as well as additional airstrikes later in the day that targeted a dozen ISIS-controlled oil refineries within Syria. ISIS makes an estimated $2 million a day selling oil on the black market, according to U.S. officials.

As many as 150,000 Syrians have crossed into southern Turkey since Friday, according to the Associated Press, as the refugees – mainly Kurds – flee the violence that has engulfed the region. The situation could get worse still: The United Nations warns that ISIS attacks on dozens of Kurdish villages in northern Syria risk creating a mass exodus of up to 400,000 people seeking refuge in neighboring Turkey. Officials with the U.N. refugee agency said Tuesday that they are making contingency plans in case the entire population of the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani is forced across the border by advancing ISIS militants.

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