More air strikes on IS as Britain prepares to join coalition

House of Commons recalled to vote on involvement in effort to combat militants in Iraq

Air and missile strikes, thought to be carried out by US-led forces, hit oilfields and Islamic State bases in the eastern Syrian province of Deir al-Zor overnight and early today, a monitoring group said.

US-led forces started bombing Islamic State militants in northern and eastern Syria on Tuesday and this morning's air strikes hit Islamic State bases and positions on the outskirts of the city of al-Mayadin, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

An earlier air strike hit the al-Tanak oilfield area in Deir al-Zor province, while apparent missile strikes - also thought to be carried out by US-led forces - hit the al-Quriyah area, also in Deir al-Zor.

Deir al-Zor, which borders Iraq, is almost entirely controlled by Islamic State militants and was a major oil-producing province before Syria's conflict began more than three years ago.

Oil has been a top source of revenue for Islamic State militants, and air raids yesterday targeted refineries controlled by the group. The strikes also have seemed to be intended to hamper Islamic State’s ability to operate across the border with Iraq, where it also control territory.

The Observatory said there were casualties from the earlier strikes but did not give details.

Britain, the closest US ally in the past decade's wars, announced yesterday that it too would join air strikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq, after weeks of weighing its options. Prime minister David Cameron recalled parliament, which is expected to give its approval this evening.

The motion being debated by the Commons states that troops will not be deployed in “ground combat operations” against IS. It also makes clear that another vote will be called if the air campaign is to be extended to Syria.

A summary of the British government’s legal position released alongside the motion argues that the action is permissible because Iraq has requested military help to protect its “people and territory”.

France yesterday launched air strikes in response to the beheading of a French tourist in Algeria by militants, who said the killing was punishment for Paris' decision last week to become the first European country to join the bombing campaign.

Meanwhile, in the United States, FBI Director James Comey said Washington had identified the masked Islamic State militant in videos with a knife at the beheading of two American hostages in recent weeks. Those acts helped galvanise Washington's bombing campaign.

“I’m not going to tell you who I believe it is,” Mr Comey told reporters. He said he knew the person’s nationality, but declined to give further details.

Iraqi prime minister Haidar al-Abadi, in New York to attend a UN meeting, said he had credible intelligence that Islamic State networks in Iraq were plotting to attack US and French subway trains.

Senior US officials and French security services said they had no evidence of the specific threat cited byMr Abadi. But New York Police Commissioner William Bratton said the department boosted its presence on subways and city streets after the Iraqi warning.

City officials added there was no specific, credible threat, and Mayor Bill de Blasio said: “We are convinced New Yorkers are safe.”

Officials in Chicago and Washington D.C. said they knew of no threats to their transit systems.

Some Iraqi officials in Baghdad questioned Mr Abadi’s comments. One high-level Iraqi government official said it appeared to be based on “ancient intelligence”.

Reuters