Sept 25 (Reuters) - U.S. and Arab air forces struck Islamic State fighters in Syria for a third day on Thursday, as Washington won further pledges of military support for its battle against the radical group in neighboring Iraq.
U.S. Central Command said Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar have participated in or supported strikes against Islamic State targets since the opening day of the campaign in Syria on Tuesday.
The Netherlands said it would deploy six warplanes for the campaign in Iraq, where the United States has carried out air strikes since early August, and Belgium is set to offer the same number. Australia will also send eight fighter jets.
France, which has already joined the U.S. strikes on Iraq, suggested it might consider joining the air campaign in Syria.
Below is a summary of where key countries stand:
The major oil exporter is one of four Gulf Arab countries which have played a role in the air strikes in Syria. Their contribution to the fight against Islamic State is seen as crucial by the West to counter accusations that it is pursuing a new Western crusade against Islam in the Middle East.
A Gulf security source familiar with the air strikes said that in the first night of strikes Saudi Arabia sent four F-16 fighter jets. Saudi media reported the son of Saudi Crown Prince Salman was among the eight Saudi pilots who took part.
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Another important U.S. ally in the Gulf, the UAE contributed four F-16s on the first night of the Syria attacks, the Gulf source said. The UAE's four warplanes were commanded by Maryam al-Mansoor, the country's first woman pilot, a source in the UAE said.
The United States said Saudi Arabia and the UAE also took part in the third night of air strikes, but did not spell out the scale of their operations.
According to the Gulf source, Bahrain sent two warplanes to the opening wave of attacks, a relatively modest contribution which highlights the symbolic rather than military value of some Arab contributions.
Qatar, home to a U.S. Central Command regional headquarters, contributed a Mirage jet, which did not drop any bombs or take an active part in the attack, the source said.
Another close U.S. ally, Jordan said several jets struck militant sites across its northern border with Syria. Officials portrayed the strike as aimed at securing the frontier from infiltration.
France carried out its first air strike in Iraq on Sept. 19, targeting an Islamic State logistics depot near Mosul. It has since carried out reconnaissance missions and supported Iraqi ground troops near Baghdad, although it has not re-engaged. French special forces are already training Kurdish Peshmerga forces in the north after providing weapons to the Kurds.
President Francois Hollande had ruled out joining air strikes on Syria, but Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian appeared to soften that position on Thursday, a day after an Algerian Islamist group beheaded a French tourist in retaliation for France's role in Iraq.
Le Drian said strikes on Syria were not an immediate issue but, pressed on whether it was a possibility in future, he said: "The question is on the table."
Australia has decided to send eight F-18 Super Hornet fighter jets to assist in the U.S.-led air campaign against Islamic State fighters in Iraq. Australia also has agreed to send special forces troops to act as advisers to Iraqi forces.
Belgium is set to offer six F-16 fighter jets to join the air campaign against Islamic State in Iraq, the country's defense ministry said on Wednesday. It will also send 120 pilots and support staff, as well as C-130 cargo planes to carry troops and materiel to Iraq.
So far, Belgium has been contributing humanitarian assistance. But with jihadists from Belgium joining Islamic State, Belgian officials say it is in their interest to participate in coalition efforts to halt its spread.
The Dutch government said on Wednesday it would deploy six F-16 fighters and as many as 380 military personnel to support the U.S.-led fight against Islamic State insurgents in Iraq. Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher told reporters the planes would be used to target Islamist militants in Iraq and the personnel would provide training and advice to Iraqi and Kurdish regional military forces for up to one year.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has asked for parliament to be recalled so it can vote on Friday on whether to join the U.S.-led air strikes against Islamic State in Iraq. The move came after Iraq asked Britain to support coalition operations against the group.
Britain already has delivered aid and weapons to Kurds in Iraq and promised them training. Britain has said any strikes in Syria would be more complicated because they could not be carried out in cooperation with Assad's government.
Turkey, a NATO member and close U.S. ally that borders both Iraq and Syria, had initially ruled out taking part in the military effort against Islamic State, but President Tayyip Erdogan indicated a shift in position on Tuesday, saying Ankara could provide military or logistical support.
The change came after IS fighters freed 46 Turkish nationals who were held hostage.
Turkey has felt a direct impact as a result of Islamic State's ruthless assaults in Syria. More than 130,000 Syrian Kurds have surged across its border in the past week, fleeing an IS advance on the town of Kobani.
President Vladimir Putin told U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday that air strikes on Islamic State bases inside Syria "should not be carried out without the agreement of the government of Syria." The Russian Foreign Ministry said this meant securing explicit consent, rather than merely notifying Damascus. (Reporting by Reuters bureaux; Compiled by Dominic Evans, editing by Peter Millership)