US urges online fight against IS as strikes hit jihadists

MURSITPINAR, Turkey- The US-led coalition has carried out fresh air strikes against jihadists in Syria and Iraq as Washington called for the battle against the Islamic State group to be taken to the Internet.

Fighting continued to rage for the strategic Syrian border town of Kobane, and in Iraq a car bomb explosion on Monday killed at least eight people in a Baghdad square after a suicide bombing reportedly left at least 14 pro-government fighters dead south of the capital.

An AFP reporter in Turkey just across the border from Kobane said fierce clashes were raging in the strategic Syrian town, where Kurdish fighters have been holding off an offensive by Islamic State fighters for weeks.

The US military said its warplanes carried out four more air strikes near Kobane on Sunday and Monday.

As the fighting intensifies, the Pentagon revised up its estimate of the cost of the air war, saying the price tag for the campaign was about $8.3 million a day.

But there was still no sign of promised reinforcements for Kobane’s defenders, despite plans announced last week for Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga forces armed with heavy weapons to join them.

A senior Iraqi Kurdish official said the deployment was being held up by Turkey, which has agreed to allow the peshmerga to pass through its territory.

“We are ready to send them,” said Mustafuz Qader, who heads the ministry responsible for the peshmerga.

Kobane has become a symbol in the battle against IS, an extremist Sunni group that has seized large parts of Syria and Iraq, declared an Islamic “caliphate” and committed widespread atrocities.

Washington has forged an alliance of Western and Arab nations to combat the group and on Monday met with coalition partners in Kuwait City to boost efforts to counter the jihadists’ online propaganda.