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US probing claim Islamic State used chemical weapons

The United States is investigating reports that Islamic State fighters have used chemical weapons against Iraqi security forces.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said the allegations, reported by the Washington Post, are "extremely serious" and confirmed his department was "seeking additional information" to determine their accuracy.

US Secretary of State John Kerry confirmed the US was hunting more details of the alleged chemical attack. Credit: Reuters-Brian Snyder

The Post said poisonous chlorine gas was the diagnosis for 11 Iraqi police officers who were rushed to a government hospital with severe breathing problems after an attack, purportedly by Islamic State extremists, last month.

The newspaper said an official at Iraq's ministry of defence supported the claims of the Iraqi forces, though the report added that details of two other apparent chlorine attacks were "sketchy".

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US confirms arms drop was taken by IS militants

Two bundles of military supplies for Kurdish fighters in Kobani went astray, the Pentagon has confirmed.

One was destroyed in a subsequent air strike and the other was taken by Islamic State (IS) militants.

Yesterday we announced that one resupply bundle went astray and was destroyed.

We have since relooked at that and we have determined that a second bundle also went astray and probably fell into enemy hands

– Army Colonel Steve Warren

Twenty-six other bundles of supplies were dropped to Kurds in the besieged city and reached their targets, Col. Warren said.

'At least 5 Britons' going to join Islamic State every week

There are at least five Britons travelling to Iraq and Syria to join Islamic State (IS) every week, the UK's most senior police officer has said, adding that this is the minimum and there could be many more.

An Islamic State fighter shows off the group's flag. Credit: Reuters

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said the militants' activities in those countries were "not just the horrors of distant lands" and warned of the terrorist threat posed at home by returning fighters.

We know that over 500 British nationals travelled to join the conflict. Many have returned and many will wish to do so in the coming months and perhaps in future years.

We still have an average of five people joining them a week. Five a week doesn't sound much but when you realise there are 50 weeks in a year, 250 more would be 50% more than we think have gone already.

Those numbers are a minimum. Those are the ones that we believe have gone. There may be many more.

– Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, Metropolitan Police Commissioner

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US arms 'claimed by IS militants' after air drop

Video posted online shows grenades, which it is claimed were dropped by US forces.. Credit: YouTube

Islamic State (IS) fighters have claimed that munitions dropped by American planes have landed in the areas they control, rather then getting to the Kurdish fighters the US is trying to arm.

ITV News Washington Correspondent Robert Moore reports:

In a video posted online a masked man with a machine gun opens several boxes which hold a variety of shells and explosives. He says: "These are the bombs dropped by American forces to the Kurdish forces. Praise to God, now they are spoils for the Mujahideen."

The United States airdropped arms for the first time to help the defenders resist an assault by IS.

Video posted online shows shells, which it is claimed were dropped by US forces.. Credit: YouTube

The US military said it conducted six air strikes on Islamic State militants near Kobani on Sunday and Monday, one of which destroyed a stray bundle of supplies from an air drop in order to prevent them from falling into enemy hands.

Foreign Secretary welcomes new Syria sanctions

The Foreign Secretary has welcomed fresh EU sanctions against the Syrian regime, describing President Assad as the "cause of instability and conflict" in the country.

Philip Hammond and European counterparts agreed the measures at a meeting in Brussels today.

Another 18 individuals and entities, including some suspected of supplying the administration with oil, will be subjected to restrictions.

Philip Hammond welcomed the new round of sanctions. Credit: Leon Neal/PA Wire

Among those targeted by the sanctions is a "notorious" military commander who ordered nerve gas attacks that killed hundreds of civilians.

"Sanctions are a key part of our strategy for weakening the regime and limiting its ability to perpetrate more barbaric acts against the Syrian people," Mr Hammond said.

Smoke rises over Kobani after latest air strikes

Huge explosions were seen over the Syrian town of Kobani today as air strikes against Islamic State targets continued.

US-led air strikes have helped stop the advance of IS militants. Credit: Reuters
Smoke rises over the Syrian town of Kobani after an air strike. Credit: Reuters
The US air-dropped arms to help Kurdish fighters for the first time. Credit: Reuters
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