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20 Australian jihadists killed in Syria, Iraq: govt
by Staff Writers
Sydney (AFP) Dec 09, 2014

Syria strikes kill three in Lebanon border area: report
Beirut (AFP) Dec 09, 2014 - Syrian warplanes carried out air strikes in a border region of eastern Lebanon overnight, killing three people and injuring two others, Lebanon's official news agency said Tuesday.

The National News Agency said the strikes hit the outskirts of the border town of Arsal, which has regularly been targeted by Syrian government air raids and shelling.

Local residents said a house was among the targets of the raids.

The town of Arsal and the area around it are largely Sunni Muslim, and residents sympathise with the Sunni-led uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The nearby border is long and porous, and has proved an easy crossing point for smugglers, refugees and fighters.

Tens of thousands of Syrian refugees are being hosted in the town, and opposition fighters have bases in the mountainous border area outside Arsal.

The town was overrun briefly in August by jihadists coming from Syria, who withdrew after several days of fighting.

They took with them some 30 Lebanese police and soldiers as hostages, and have since executed four of them.

Australia on Tuesday accused Islamic militants of using foreign fighters as "cannon fodder" and "propaganda tools" as it revealed 20 nationals have now been killed in Syria and Iraq.

More than 70 Australians are currently fighting in the two nations, the government has said, with several more deaths reported as coalition fighter planes pound Islamic State group positions.

"The government is aware of around 20 Australians who have died in the conflict in Syria and Iraq," Attorney General George Brandis told The Australian newspaper.

"This number has risen in recent weeks, with several Australians understood to have died in fighting against government forces, including in Kobane."

The Australian government had previously confirmed 15 deaths, with the tally climbing higher as fighting rages around the strategic Syrian town of Kobane.

The deaths have given rise to fresh warnings that foreigners are being exploited by Islamic State for what has become a public relations campaign aimed at driving recruitment.

Brandis accused the group of duping Western recruits into thinking they were "an important part" of a religious crusade when in fact they were bit players in a propaganda war.

"They are simply using them as frontline cannon fodder, suicide bombers and propaganda tools," he said.

"Australian youths, and many young men and women from Western countries, are being lured by the falsehood of a noble battle against an oppressive enemy.

"In reality, they are merely taking part in acts of thoughtless violence, in many cases against innocent civilians, on behalf of ISIL, which is intent on recklessly enslaving, raping and murdering those with a contrary view to their own."

Canberra recently passed a law criminalising travel to terror hotspots without good reason, fearful that nationals will pose a risk when they return radicalised.

Under new laws, anyone who heads to nominated areas will face up to 10 years in jail.

Many countries are facing similar issues with new European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini saying Monday she hoped increased intelligence-sharing would help stop the flow of foreign fighters.

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Analysis: Why the U.S. is losing the war against the Islamic State
Washington DC (UPI) Dec 06, 2014
Make no mistake. On the current trajectory, the United States is losing the war against the Islamic State and the reasons why are clear. Most telling are the White House's use of minimal means in waging this war while seemingly assuming full responsibility for its conduct; and failure to make the case that the threat posed by IS extends far beyond Iraq and Syria. Ending the wars ... read more

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