Defence Minister Kevin Andrews has confirmed Australian fighter jets have carried out their first air strikes against Islamic State strongholds in Syria.
Three air strikes were undertaken on Monday, destroying an oil collection point, an IS tactical unit, and an IS armoured personnel carrier, according to a statement issued by the United States Military’s Central Command. Mr Andrews said two Australian F/A-18 Super Hornets were involved in the operation. “Two days ago, the Air Task Group completed its first strike against a Daesh (IS) strike [sic] in eastern Syria, destroying an armoured personnel carrier.” The United Kingdom, Canada, France, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the US were among the countries listed as having taken part.
Refugees drown off Turkish coast
At least 22 refugees, including four children, have drowned underneath a 20-metre wooden boat after it sank off Turkey’s coast. Amir Cicek, Governor of Bodrum, said that rescue crews successfully saved 249 of the 271 people on board. “Twenty-two migrants remained under the boat and drowned. Search and rescue work has been completed,” he said. Despite transporting such a large number, the boat only had capacity for 50-60 people. It has been reported that the boat sank in international waters between Datca in Turkey and the Greek Island of Kos. At this stage it is unclear of what caused the vessel to sink. Al Jazeera’s Bernard Smith believes this incident is an indicator of the current masses of people still attempting to cross the Mediterranean. “The latest incident is an indication that there are still a large number of people trying to cross the Mediterranean,” he said.
Hungary closes borders to asylum seekers
Hungary has closed off its border with Serbia, shutting off a railway track used by thousands of refugees to enter by foot. Hungarian authorities have arrested close to 200 asylum seekers for crossing the border illegally. Austria has responded to its neighbour’s state of emergency declaration by imposing new restrictions at its borders. Around 2500 people have spent the night in tents around the Austrian border, which had been set up by the country’s army. It is reported that the temporary control imposed by Austria may also be extended to other European nations.
North Korea reopens nuclear plant
North Korea’s main nuclear facility has resumed normal operation, raising concerns about its weapons program. The Yongbyon complex, north of Pyongyang, is one of the country’s main sources of weapons-grade plutonium, and was shut down in 2007 in exchange for foreign aid. However, the regime announced its reopening in 2013 amid rising tensions with the South, and today confirmed the facility was fully operational. North Korea announced yesterday that it would launch long-range rockets carrying new satellites; however, the South believes it will use these launches as cover for banned nuclear tests.
Putin pledges support to Assad
Russian President Vladimir Putin is urging other countries to support the Syrian Government against IS. Mr Putin has promised continued military assistance to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad despite concerns from the United States and Europe, and says that the Assad regime is best placed to fight IS insurgency in the war-torn country. US officials believe Russia is planning to expand its military presence in Syria by building an airbase to complement its existing naval facility. – Compiled from web sources by The Newsroom Team