Middle East

Twitter Q&A: Paul Wood answered your questions on Middle East

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Media captionPaul Wood talks about reporting on the frontline on Outside Source

Immense instability in Syria and Iraq has allowed jihadist groups to expand the territory they control across the region. As the battle for the key Turkey-Syria border town of Kobane rages, the BBC's Middle East correspondent Paul Wood assesses what's at stake.

What, if anything, have airstrikes by the US and a coalition of Western and Arab states on jihadist militants from Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria achieved so far? How likely is it that the militants will make it to Baghdad? And, what's likely to happen if Kobane falls to IS fighters?

The BBC's Paul Wood has been covering the conflict in Iraq for more than a decade, and has recently returned from the frontline in Syria.

He answered your questions in a live Twitter Q&A.

This is an edited version of the session:

Question from Susan Stacey in Herts, UK: How are we tackling extremists living in UK?

Paul answers: MI5 takes a close interest these days in anyone returning from Syria. There's lot of electronic interception too.

He also says: But many of those who go to Syria to fight are not known - so called clean-skins (terrible phrase) that makes them difficult to track.

Question from Sue in Suffolk, UK: Who is funding IS so they can buy arms?

Paul answers: Rich donors from Gulf countries at the start. Now oil money (that's why the US has been bombing oil facilities).

Further to this he says: And money from kidnapping ($200m so far, according to an Iraqi intelligence officer I know).

Question from Simon in Sheffield, UK: How long do you think it is until ground troops will be re-deployed?

Paul answers: It depends UK and US on politics. There is no public appetite on either side of the Atlantic for sending troops.

He adds: Few effective ground forces there now (especially true of Syria). No wonder the politicians warn of "a long war".

Question from Bob in York, UK: IS wants to unite all Sunni people. Why doesn't the UN start negotiations to achieve this natural aspiration?

Paul answers: The UN is already involved in difficult and so far fruitless negotiation on Syria. Uniting Sunnis may mean a break up of the country.

He also adds: Of course Iraq may already be broken beyond repair.

Question from William Auld: Who runs the captured oil wells? I don't think I would hang about if IS were attacking.

Paul answers: Sunnis I questioned had fled the Baji oil refinery because of Iraqi government shelling - they were quite happy with IS.

He adds: Generally the reaction to IS varies depending on which community your interviewee is from.

Question from Noel: Does reporting beheadings and airstrike effectiveness just help promote IS?

Paul answers: That's a question I've wrestled with - are we giving "the oxygen of publicity" to IS by showing these awful videos?

Further to this he said: The answer is yes, but we must report the world as it is - we have to report, but do so with restraint.

Question from @saramhaddy: Who is IS working with? They are too powerful to be working alone.

Paul answers: Own sources of money. From kidnaps and oil resources.

Question from @CentreCell: Why isn't the intl coalition doing more to help Kobane?

Paul answers: In Syria they hoped foreign media would get intl help.

He adds: US help now hasn't been enough. When will there be more effective intervention?

Question from @viewreader: I would like to know who funds ISIS.

Paul answers: Whoever is funding won't advertise it! Country has resources. Plus taxes and oil revenue. Multiple sources now

Question from @Andrew_InStre: Is it possible for coalition aircraft to Identify IS tanks near Kobane and take them out?

Paul answers: They seem to have a lot of surveillance, and eyes on ground. So the answer has to be Yes

He adds: Which leads to the question, why hasn't the US stopped the jihadi advance?

Question from @paddyjames89: Witnessing what you have on Turkey-Syria border, is UK / Western intervention on Syrian soil inevitable?

Paul answers: Extreme reluctance to send troops - might see a lot more US advisors and special forces, but it won't be Gulf War 3

Question from @ShayMeinecke: What's the closest to being in danger that you've experienced?

Paul answers: Have been kidnapped, shelled, shot at, and have eaten raw lamb kebab on the Syrian Turkish border!

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