The United States military has confirmed it had launched a fresh round of air strikes on Syria, targeting fighters of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), in a second day of attacks on the armed group in war-ravaged country.
US Central Command said in a statement on Wednesday said at least one strike hit a Syrian area northwest of the Iraqi border.
Activists said more strikes hit the Kurdish-dominated Syrian town of Kobani, an area that have been besieged by ISIL fighters for past week.
Tens of thousands of residents have been fleeing the ISIL assault on the town over the past few days. But as Al Jazeera’s Stefanie Dekker reported from the Syrian-Turkish border, many residents were returning to Kobani on Wednesday upon hearing the reports of the strikes on ISIL.
“A lot of the Kurds who are going back to Syria are young men who want to take the matter in their own hand and fight the ISIL on their land,” she said.
Turkey said neither its air force nor the US airbase in southern Turkey had been used, according to Dekker.
So far, 20 air strikes have been launched across Syria over the past two days, Central Command said.
The strikes in Syria were carried out on Tuesday overnight with help of five Arab nations, namely Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Jordan.
The US-led campaign opens a new front in Syria and thrusts Washington into the country’s three-year-old conflict.
The US has launched nearly 200 strikes in Iraq in recent weeks against ISIL fighters, who have captured large swathes of land in Iraq and Syria over the past few months.
On Wednesday, the US military said it launched three strikes on the ISIL in Iraq. One hit west of Baghdad and two others struck southeast of Irbil.
Activists in Syria said that fighters of al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch, Al-Nusra Front, were evacuating their bases and positions in the northeastern province of Idlib.
Ahrar al-Sham, one of the most influential Syrian rebel groups with ties to Nusra, was also evacuating its positions in the region.
The evacuations came a day after US air strikes hit a group of Al-Qaeda fighters in Aleppo province, on the border with Idlib.
Washington said the strikes targeted a cell within Al-Nusra called Khorasan that was planning attacks against Western interests.
The strikes killed at least 70 fighters, as well as eight civilians, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group.
On Wednesday, a US official said it is believed that one of its strikes killed leader of the so-called Khorasan group, Mohsin al-Fadhli.
The Syrian government is watching with caution the latest developments in the areas it fell out of its control more than a year ago, according to one of its minister.
Ali Haidar, minister for national reconciliation, told the Reuters news agency that the US-led strikes were so far going in the “right direction” because the government had been informed before they started and they were not hitting civilians or Syrian military targets.
“Notification of the Syrian government happened,” he said. “Confirmation that they would not target Syrian military installations, and confirmation they would not target civilians happened.”
The US said on Tuesday that Washington’s envoy to the United Nations had told her Syrian counterpart air strikes would take place, but it has ruled out coordinating with President Bashar Assad, whom Washington sees as part of the problem.