Middle East Updates Kerry: 'No Discrepancy' Between U.S. and Turkey Over Islamic State

Turkish planes hit Kurdish targets in southeast Turkey; Obama to meet anti-Islamic State coalition partners.

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Kurdish supporters of the Kurdistan Workers' Party shout slogans and hold a portrait of its imprisoned leader Abdullah Ocalan, Sun., Oct. 12, 2014.
Kurdish supporters of the Kurdistan Workers' Party shout slogans and hold a portrait of its imprisoned leader Abdullah Ocalan, Sun., Oct. 12, 2014.Credit: AP
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Syrian Kurdish refugees who fled Kobani at refugee camp in Suruc, on the Turkey-Syria border, October 11, 2014.Credit: AP

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Latest updates:

9:50 P.M. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said there was "no discrepancy" between the United States and Turkey with regard to the strategy for fighting Islamic State militants trying to take over a Kurdish town in Syria near the Turkish border.

Kerry, in Paris for talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, added that Ankara would define its role according to its own timetable. (Reuters)

7:10 P.M. Photographs taken by activists in the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani and examined by Israeli researchers appear to prove that Islamic State militants possess chemical weapons and may have used them. For the full story, click here.

7:04 P.M. U.S.-led forces conduct 21 airstrikes near Kobani

American-led forces conducted 21 airstrikes focused on halting Islamic State advances at Kobani, Syria, in the last two days, the U.S. military said on Tuesday, warning the situation on the ground is fluid as militants try to gain territory.

The strikes Monday and Tuesday, which also included Saudi Arabian fighter planes, destroyed two militant staging areas, destroyed or damaged three Islamic State buildings and damaged three other compounds, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

It was an unusually large number of airstrikes reported since U.S. military planes began daily attacks on Islamic State fighters who have taken over parts of the strategic town close to the Turkish border. Thousands of refugees have been forced to flee over the frontier.

The military said there are indications the airstrikes have slowed Islamic State advances in Kobani but cautioned the situation on the ground remains fluid as militants try to gain territory and Kurdish militia were "continuing to hold out."

The statement said one strike hit a modular oil refinery near Deir al-Zor, a city to the south of Kobani. A strike in Iraq, southwest of the northern oil center of Kirkuk, destroyed two Islamic State vehicles, it said. (Reuters)

6:30 P.M. 'Islamic State's oil revenues hit by coalition airstrikes'

The U.S.-led campaign of airstrikes against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has disrupted the organization's oil revenues, a report by the International Energy Agency said Tuesday.

From about 70,000 barrels per day of production this summer, mostly in Iraq, the area under control of the Sunni extremists had shrunk to about 20,000 barrels per day, the IEA estimated in its October oil market report.

The agency credited the international bombardments with "frustrating the jihadists' ability to operate oil fields and refineries and disrupting a smuggling operation that had raked in daily revenue estimated at between one million and three million dollars."

A crackdown on oil smuggling by Kurdish authorities in northern Iraq and the government of neighbouring Turkey was "further constricting the militants' revenues," the report said. (DPA)

2:25 P.M. Airstrikes hit Islamic State targets in Syria

Activists say the U.S.-led coalition has launched several airstrikes on positions of Islamic State militants in northern and eastern Syria, most on the town of Kobani.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Local Coordination Committees say some of the airstrikes targeted the eastern town of Mayadeen.

The Observatory said the airstrikes struck oil refineries near Mayadeen, sparking a huge fire. The group and Idriss Nassan, a local Kurdish official from Kobani, said Tuesday that intense airstrikes hit members of the Islamic State group around the town. Nassan said Kurdish militiamen captured the Tel Shair hill that overlooks the town and brought down the black flag of the Islamic State group. (Ap)

1:10 P.M. Yemen rebels take port city, province near Sanaa

Yemeni security and military officials say Shiite rebels who recently overran the capital have now seized a key port city on the Red Sea and a province south of Sanaa in a stunning new blitz. The development indicates the Shiite Houthis may be determined to carve out a mini-state within Yemen, taking advantage of the weakness of the central government and the disarray in the army and security forces.

Yemeni officials say the rebels on Tuesday overran the Red Sea port city of Hodeida, west of Sanaa. South of the capital, they took Damar province and its provincial capital. The officials say soldiers and police vanished from the Damar city streets. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the media. (Reuters)

10:56 A.M. UK anti-terrorism police arrest six in Syria-linked op.

British police arrested three men and three women on Tuesday in a counter-terrorism operation linked to the civil war in Syria. Counter terrorism officers detained the suspects in London, Portsmouth, on England's south coast, and in Farnborough, west of the British capital. The group, aged between 23 and 57, were being held on suspicion of range of terrorism offences.

"Officers would like to reassure residents that the police activity today is in relation to conflicts overseas and is not linked to any immediate threat to local communities or anywhere else in the UK," the South East Counter Terrorism Unit said in a statement.

Britain raised its international threat level to the second-highest classification of "severe" in August, meaning an attack was considered highly likely. British Prime Minister David Cameron has said Islamic State militants battling for territory in Syria and Iraq pose a grave security risk to Britain.

On Monday, London police arrested three men as part of what they said was an ongoing investigation into "Islamist terrorism". The men, aged 24, 21 and 25, were arrested in central London on suspicion of being concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism. (Reuters)

9:59 A.M. Turkish planes hit Kurdish targets in southeast Turkey

Turkish warplanes attacked Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets in southeast Turkey on Sunday in the first significant air operation against the militants since the launch of a peace process two years ago, Hurriyet news website said on Tuesday.

The air strikes caused "major damage" to the PKK, Hurriyet said. They were launched after three days of PKK shelling on a military outpost in Hakkari province near the Iraqi border, it added.

There was no immediate comment from the military on the report. (Reuters)

9:50 A.M. Obama to meet anti-Islamic State coalition partners

President Barack Obama and his military commanders will meet Tuesday with defense chiefs from more than 20 nations participating in the fight against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.

The daylong meeting comes as the White House tries to tout progress in the U.S.-led campaign against the militants, while also girding the public for a military effort that could extend well beyond Obama's presidency. Administration officials said the meeting would focus on military strategy and ways to bolster the campaign to counter the extremists.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the meeting would be an important effort to further coordinate and organize the international fight against the Islamic State militants.

"They will be working through those specific areas and defining specific contributions that these nations will make," Hagel told reporters at the end of Monday's meeting with defense ministers of the Americas in Arequipa, Peru. (AP) Read the full article

9:46 A.M. Iran warns Saudi Arabia over accusations of Mideast meddling

Iran's state news agency is reporting that the Islamic Republic's Foreign Ministry has warned Saudi Arabia that comments calling it "part of the problem" in the Middle East may damage diplomatic ties.

The report Tuesday by IRNA quotes Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian saying: "The remark by Saud al-Faisal, if it is carried precisely, is in contradiction with diplomatic negotiators between the two countries."

Al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, accused Tehran on Monday of having forces inside Syria, Iraq and Yemen, and insisted that Iran is "part of the problem" in trying to defuse a myriad of Mideast crises. (AP)

9:03 A.M. Roadside bomb kills one civilian in Kabul

At least one civilian was killed and another injured by a roadside bomb Tuesday in the capital of Afghanistan, local news reports said.The incident occurred early morning in Kabul.No group had yet claimed responsibility. (DPA)

6:32 A.M. Turkey: No permission given to U.S. to use air base against IS

NATO allies Turkey and the United States differed Monday on where they stand on the use of a key air base, with Turkish officials denying reports from the United States that there was a new agreement on its use for operations against Islamic State militants.

The impasse suggests that major differences remain between the two sides. Turkey has said it won't join the fight against the extremists unless the U.S.-led coalition also goes after the Syrian government of President Bashar Assad, including establishing a no-fly zone and a buffer zone along the Turkish border.

The United States has been pressing Turkey to play a larger role against the Islamic militants, who have taken control of large swaths of Syria and Iraq, including territory on Turkey's border, and sent several hundred thousand refugees fleeing into Turkey. (AP) Read the full article

German Bundeswehr Transall C-160 plane carrying humanitarian aid stands on tarmac at Incirlik airbase near Adana. The U.S. wants to use to base for anti-Islamic State operations. Photo by Reuters

4:00 A.M. Yemeni president appoints new ministers as part of peace deal

Yemen's president on Monday appointed a diplomat and former oil minister as prime minister after securing backing of Islamists as well as Shi'ite rebels who control the capital, a move welcomed by the UN Security Council which called for the new government to implement a roadmap to peace and democracy.

The appointment of Khaled Bahah, Yemen's ambassador to the United Nations, is part of a peace deal brokered by the United Nations after Shiite Houthi rebels swept through the capital Sanaa and took over army barracks, ministries and vital state institutions last month. Their takeover came amid increasing terrorist attacks carried out by Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, which the Security Council condemned.

Bahah will have 30 days to form a government in the restive Arabian Peninsula nation after rival political groups gave their backing to his selection by President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, state media reported. (AP)

2:00 A.M. Qatari Emir visits Saudi Arabia to discuss Syria

Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani arrived Monday in Saudi Arabia and met with King Abdallah bin Abdel Aziz, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said.

It was al-Thani's second visit to Saudi Arabia in the last three months.

An Arab diplomat based in Beirut told dpa the visit, which was described as "brotherly" by the official Qatari news agency, is aimed at discussing regional issues such as the conflict in Syria.

A source inside the opposition Syrian National Coalition (SNC) said the failure to elect a new prime minister for the opposition's interim government during their meetings over the last three days in Turkey prompted these Saudi-Qatari talks. (DPA)

10:40 P.M. Saudi FM lashes out at Iran over "occupying forces" in Syria, Iraq and Yemen

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister on Monday lashed out at regional rival Iran, accusing it of having forces inside Syria, Iraq and Yemen, and insisting that Iran is "part of the problem" in trying to defuse the myriad Mideast crises.

Saud al-Faisal said that Tehran should pull its troops — which he called "occupying forces" — from the three Mideast nations stricken by conflicts and violence if it wants to be part of the solution. He did not elaborate on his allegations. (AP)

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