Nearly 20 more air strikes target Islamic State: U.S. coalition

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S.-led coalition conducted nearly 20 more air strikes against Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq since early on Monday, according to the Combined Joint Task Force leading the operations. In a statement, the coalition said it led 10 strikes from Monday morning through early Tuesday in Syria, mostly near the besieged border town of Kobani where it hit several fighting and staging positions. One strike hit a bunker used by the militants near al-Hasaka, the task force said on Tuesday. In Iraq, it launched nine air strikes near al-Qaim, al-Asad and Mosul, among other cities, the statement said. The strikes, which also hit near Sinjar, Kirkuk and Ramadi, hit five units of Islamic State fighters. The strikes in Iraq also hit several militants' supply caches, fighting positions, heavy weapons and armored vehicles, according to the task force. News of the continued strikes against Islamic State come as the militant group on Tuesday released an online video purporting to show two Japanese captives and threatening to kill them unless it received $200 million in ransom. A figure in the video gave Japan a 72-hour deadline to pay for what it called Japan's "foolish" support for the U.S.-led coalition's military campaign against the group. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Saturday pledged around $200 million in non-military assistance for countries battling Islamic State. Japan is not part of the military coalition leading the air strikes. Countries helping the United States conduct strikes in Iraq include Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Netherlands and the United Kingdom, while those helping in Syria include Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. (Reporting by Washington Newsroom; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Meredith Mazzilli)