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As U.S. Warplanes Hit ISIS, U.K. Debates Joining Airstrikes

British Prime Minister David Cameron addresses the Houses of Parliament, central London, on Friday. He urged MPs to authorize the U.K.'s participation in anti-ISIS airstrikes.
Image credit: PA

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron has told Parliament that the self-declared Islamic State poses a “clear and proven” threat to British lives and that it is his country’s duty to join a U.S.-led military coalition to defeat the extremists. Parliament is expected within hours to vote to authorize such a move.

The debate in Britain comes as the U.S. carried out 10 new airstrikes in Iraq and Syria on targets of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. The strikes hit oil installations for a second consecutive day.

“I believe it is our duty to take part,” Cameron told members of Parliament, stressing that no British ground forces would be involved. “This international operation is about protecting our people, too, and protecting the streets of Britain should not be a task that we are prepared to entirely subcontract to other air forces of other countries.”

The vote is expected around 12:30 p.m. ET. The BBC says:

“The Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Labour all back UK military participation in bombings against IS in Iraq, which the coalition says is legal because it was requested by the Iraqi government.

“Opening a seven hour Commons debate, Mr Cameron told MPs the threat posed by IS was not ‘on the far side of the world,’ saying it had already been responsible for one major attack in Europe and a number of other plots had been foiled.

” ‘This is not the stuff of fantasy. It is happening in front of us and we need to face up to it,’ he said.”

In the latest action against ISIS, the U.S. Central Command says in a statement that American warplanes and drones conducted five strikes south and southwest of Kirkuk, destroying Islamic State vehicles, including Humvees and an MRAP. Two other strikes in Iraq, one west of Baghdad and another near Al Qaim, destroyed various structures, including a command and control node, the statement says.

“In Syria, three airstrikes south and southeast of Dayr Az Zawr destroyed four ISIL tanks and damaged another,” it says.

It wasn’t clear whether any of the five Arab partners that joined in previous airstrikes also participated in the latest round. Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates — including that country’s first female pilot — participated in previous attacks.

The Associated Press, citing the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, says: “The strikes hit at least two oil-producing areas in Deir el-Zour province overnight. It says air raids also targeted the headquarters of the Islamic State group in the town of Mayadeen early Friday.”

The AP says:

“Another activist collective, the Local Coordination Committees, also reported four strikes on Mayadeen that it says were conducted by the coalition.”

Meanwhile, NPR’s Brian Naylor reports that FBI Director James Comey says the U.S. believes it has identified the man who beheaded two American journalists in videos released by the Islamic State.

But in a briefing with reporters, Comey declined to make the name of the suspect public. A masked executioner with what sounds like a British accent is seen in videos showing the beheading of James Foley and Steven Sotloff.

“Comey also said that he’s not confident at all that the ability of the terrorist group Khorasan was disrupted by U.S. airstrikes this week, and that the group remains at the top of the FBI’s list of terrorist concerns,” Brian reports.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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