Al Qaeda Threatens to Attack West

The head of Syria’s Al Qaeda branch said militants will attack the West in retaliation for U.S.-led air strikes in Syria and Iraq, and President Barack Obama acknowledged U.S. intelligence had underestimated the rise of Islamic State fighters.

U.S.-led air strikes hit a natural gas plant controlled by Islamic State fighters in eastern Syria, a monitoring body reported, part of an apparent campaign to disrupt one of the fighters’ main sources of income.

The monitoring group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said planes also struck a grain silo in northern Syria killing civilians. This could not be immediately confirmed.

U.S.-led strikes have so far failed to halt an advance by fighters in northern Syria on a Kurdish town: fighting raged between Islamic State militants and Kurdish forces near Kobani on the border with Turkey, where the past week’s battle caused the fastest refugee flight of Syria’s three-year civil war. Turkey returned fire after shells hit its side of the frontier.

The United States has been bombing Islamic State and other groups in Syria for nearly a week with the help of Arab allies, and hitting targets in neighboring Iraq since last month.

The head of Syria’s al Qaeda branch, the Nusra Front, a Sunni militant group which is a rival of Islamic State and has also been targeted by U.S. strikes, said Islamists would carry out attacks on the West in retaliation for the campaign.

“Muslims will not watch while their sons are bombed. Your leaders will not be the only ones who would pay the price of the war. You will pay the heaviest price,” Abu Mohamad al-Golani said in an audio message posted on pro-Nusra forums.

The U.S. strikes have created pressure on Nusra to reconcile with Islamic State, a move that would potentially create a single Sunni Islamist force in Syria and widen territory under its control.

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