US-led coalition stages 30 strikes in Syria, Iraq against Islamic State

Destruction of an MSF-supported hospital in Ma'arat Al Numan, northern Syria, after the Feb 15 airstrikes.
Destruction of an MSF-supported hospital in Ma'arat Al Numan, northern Syria, after the Feb 15 airstrikes.PHOTO: EPA

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The United States and its allies targeted Islamic State with 30 strikes in Syria and Iraq on Monday (Feb 15), the Combined Joint Task Force leading the operations said in a statement on Tuesday.

In Iraq, 20 strikes were staged near eight cities, including Al Qaim where nine strikes hit a logistics facility, two Internet cafés, two headquarters, and an media all used by the Islamic State militant group, the task force said.

Ten strikes near four Syrian cities included six that hit an Islamic State weapons cache, headquarters, three weapons storage facilities, and a barracks.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) in Geneva has expressed concern over the more than 500 Sunni Arab Iraqis who have been stuck for three months near Sinjar in no-man's-land between the Islamic State and Kurdish security forces. 

Since the UN last raised concerns about this group in December, their humanitarian situation has further deteriorated, the UNHCHR said in a statement on Tuesday (Feb 16). Since  Feb 4, this group of people were no longer able to access food and drinking water. At least two children and two women allegedly died due to the cold weather. The group was recently shelled by the Islamic State on at least three occasions, on Feb 9, 10 and 15, and were threatened with further attacks unless they agreed to relocate within the Islamic State's controlled territory. 
The UNHCHR s urged the Kurdish Regional Government to act as quickly as possible to ensure the safety, protection and access to basic humanitarian assistance for this group of extremely vulnerable people. 

"If the Kurdish authorities have security concerns about this particular group, they should vet people on an individual basis in a safe location, in full transparency and in accordance with the law. If any wrongdoing is found to have taken place, those responsible should be charged and tried according to the law. Where it is found that an individual has not committed any crime and there are no legitimate security concerns which warrant his or her continued detention under the law, then he or she should be immediately released," the UNHCHR said.