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War against IS costs US £1.7bn

The US has spent more than 2.7 billion dollars (£1.7 billion) on the war against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria since bombings began last August, the Pentagon says.

Releasing a detailed breakdown of the costs for the first time, the Defence Department showed that the US Air Force has borne two-thirds of the total spending, or more than 1.8 billion dollars (£1.1 billion).

The average daily cost is more than 9 million dollars (£5.8 million), with combat, reconnaissance and other flights eating up more than 5 million dollars (£3.2 million) a day.

The data also provided a rare look into often secret special operations costs, which totalled more than 200 million dollars (£129 million) since August.

The release of the spending totals came as Congress debated and rejected legislation that would have banned spending on combat operations until policymakers passed a new war powers resolution.

Military operation costs have grown since air strikes began in Iraq in August, and then expanded to Syria the following month. The bulk of the strikes have been in Iraq as the US-led coalition has tried to help Iraqi forces retake and hold key cities.

Other total costs include 438 million dollars (£282 million) for the Navy, including fighters and other ship support; 274 million dollars (£176 million) for the Army, which has trainers and special forces troops on the ground; 16 million dollars (£10 million) for military pay; 646 million dollars (£416 million) for munitions; and 21 million dollars (£13 million) for intelligence and surveillance operations.

Meanwhile, t he body of an American who died fighting with Kurdish forces against IS in Syria has been handed over to his family at a Turkish border crossing, a Kurdish official said.

Hundreds of people turned up in the Kurdish town of Kobani to bid farewell to Keith Broomfield before his body was handed to family at the Mursitpinar gate, said Idriss Naasan.

Mr Broomfield, from Massachusetts, died on June 3 in battle in a Syrian village near Kobani, making him probably the first US citizen to die fighting alongside Kurds against IS.

He had joined the People's Protection Units, known as the YPG, on February 24 under the nom de guerre Gelhat Rumet. The YPG is the main Kurdish guerrilla group battling IS in Syria.

The US Department of State confirmed Mr Broomfield's death on Wednesday but declined to provide any details about the circumstances.

Kurds in Turkey lined the road, waving flags and applauding as the convoy carrying the body drove by.

Family members spoke to the media yesterday outside their manufacturing business in Bolton, 30 miles west of Boston. They said they hope his body will be brought back to the US tomorrow.

Mr Broomfield's older brother Andy said he was shocked when his brother told him about his plans but eventually understood his decisions.

"He believed in opposing evil," he said. "Somebody needs to stand up and oppose evil."

His father, Tom Broomfield, said he went to Syria with no contacts and knew it was "a crazy thing to do" but felt strongly that he needed to help in some way.

"He just felt he should be going," Tom Broomfield said.

The fight against IS has attracted dozens of Westerners, including Iraq War veterans who have made their way back to the Middle East to join Kurdish fighters, who have been most successful against the extremist group.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which keeps track of Syria's war, said more than 400 foreign fighters have joined the YPG to fight IS in recent months, including Europeans, Americans, Australians and thousands of Kurdish fighters from Turkey and Iran.

Previously, a British citizen, an Australian and a German woman were killed fighting with the Kurds.

The YPG yesterday posted a video that showed Mr Broomfield saying he was in Syria "to do what I can to help Kurdistan. With everything that's been going on, it seems like the right thing to do".

"I just want to help the cause any way I can," he said.


From Belfast Telegraph