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Britain to Conduct Surveillance Flights Over Syria

by VOA News October 21, 2014

Britain said it will soon conduct military surveillance flights over Syria to collect intelligence on Islamic State militants.

British Defense Minister Michael Fallon said the country's expanded role in the U.S.-led fight against the insurgents would include use of armed Reaper drones and Rivet Joint surveillance aircraft, although no weapons would be fired.

Fallon said in a written statement to parliament Tuesday the new Syrian surveillance is necessary 'to protect our national security from the terrorist threat emanating from there.'

Britain's Royal Air Force has conducted nearly 40 combat missions against the Islamic State militants in Iraq, but unlike the United States and several Arab states, is not conducting airstrikes in Syria.

London said parliament would have to approve an expanded fighting operation in Syria.

Fighting in Kobani

Meanwhile, Kurdish fighters and Islamic State militants continue to battle in the northern Syrian town of Kobani.

Plumes of smoke could be seen Tuesday from across the border in Turkey, as the two sides clashed again in the weekslong fight that has drawn international support to help the Kurds hold off militant attempts to take the town.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said planes from the U.S.-led coalition also launched airstrikes in the area.

On Monday, the U.S. dropped shipments of weapons, ammunition and medical supplies provided by Kurdish authorities in Iraq to the Kurds in Kobani.

Turkey to aid Iraqi Kurds

Turkey also said it is helping Iraqi Kurds cross into Syria to help in the fighting there.

Kobani refugees in contact with relatives in Kobani told VOA there were two coalition airstrikes overnight.

The refugees also told VOA that they were encouraged by news that Turkey will allow Iraqi Kurds into Syria help reinforce local fighters in Kobani.

They said they are hopeful the Kurd fighters in Kobani, battling Islamic State militants for the past month, can turn things around, but the refugees said it will take time.

VOA correspondent Scott Bobb contributed to this report from Turkey. Some material for this report came from Reuters.

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