US Senate backs further defence spending for anti-IS fight

The US Senate has approved a new annual defence bill expanding the military campaign against Islamic State (IS).The bill approves a general Pentagon budget of $496bn (£316bn) plus $64bn for US wars abroad.The measure also authorises the training and equipping of moderate Syrian rebel fighters for two years.The bill had already been passed by the House of Representatives and has now been sent to President Barack Obama to sign into law.IS controls large areas of Syria and Iraq, imposing a rigid version of Sunni Islam and persecuting or killing non-believers.The US-led coalition has launched more than 600 air strikes against IS militant targets in Iraq since the campaign began on 8 August.The US, with Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, has also carried out almost 500 attacks on IS in neighbouring Syria since 23 September.Until now, US operations against IS had been funded from the existing Pentagon budget.The new bill, which was passed by 89 votes to 11, approves $3.4bn for the direct deployment of US forces against IS, and a further $1.6bn for training Iraqi Kurdish forces for two years.