France strikes Islamic State in Iraq

US-led air strikes in eastern Syria killed 14 Islamic State fighters.

FILE: Iraqi army troops chant slogans against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) as they recruit volunteers to join the fight against a major offensive by the jihadist group in northern Iraq, outside a recruiting centre in the capital Baghdad on 13 June 2014. Picture: AFP.

PARIS/BEIRUT - French fighter jets struck targets in Iraq on Thursday and the United States and its allies stepped up air raids in Syria against Islamic State militants who have taken over large areas of both countries.

France's strikes were its first since 19 September when Paris joined the United States military action against Islamic State in Iraq and followed the beheading of a French tourist, reported late on Wednesday, in Algeria in retaliation.

Overnight, US-led air strikes in eastern Syria killed 14 Islamic State fighters, according to a monitoring group, while on the ground, Kurdish forces were reported to have pushed back an advance by the Islamists towards the border town of Kobani.

A third night of air raids by the United States and its allies targeted Islamic State-controlled oil refineries in three remote locations in eastern Syria to try to cut off a major source of revenue for the al Qaeda offshoot, US officials said.

The strikes also seem to be intended to hamper Islamic State's ability to operate across the Syria-Iraq frontier, an area where it has declared an Islamic caliphate.

The air raids follow growing alarm in Western and Arab capitals at Islamic State's rapid military gains in Iraq and Syria and the beheadings of US and British hostages posted on the internet.

US President Barack Obama has vowed to keep up military pressure against the group, which advanced through Kurdish areas of northern Iraq this week despite the air strikes.

Some 140,000 refugees have fled to Turkey, many telling of villages burnt and captives beheaded.

"The only language understood by killers like this is the language of force, so the United States of America will work with a broad coalition to dismantle this network of death," Obama said at the UN General Assembly in New York on Wednesday.

Prime Minister David Cameron said he wanted Britain to join the strikes against Islamic State in Iraq after the Baghdad government requested London's help. He recalled parliament to secure its approval for military action on Friday.