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EU pledges 1 bn euros for Syria, Iraq fight against IS

EU pledges 1 bn euros for Syria, Iraq fight against IS/AFP

EU pledges 1 bn euros for Syria, Iraq fight against IS/AFP

BRUSSELS, Feb 6- The European Union has pledged one billion euros in funding for the crises in Syria and Iraq and the fight against the Islamic State militant group, the bloc’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Friday.

“This package will strengthen our actions to help restore peace and security in a region that is so close to us and that has been devastated by terrorism and violence for too long,” Mogherini said.

“The murder of Jordanian pilot Maaz al Kassasbeh just days ago is further proof that terrorism has no boundaries and that Muslims are the first victims of Da’esh,” she said, using one of the names for the Islamic State jihadist group.

The EU said in a statement that it had agreed the the “first EU comprehensive strategy on tackling the crises in Syria and Iraq and the threat posed by Da’esh”.

“It brings together ongoing and planned initiatives of the EU and its Member States and boosts their efficiency, with an additional 1 billion euros in funding for the next two years,” the statement said.

Islamist violence in France and Belgium in recent weeks has stoked fears in the 28-nation about the risk from its citizens going to fight with IS in Syria and Iraq then returning to carry out terror attacks.

“We face common challenges and common threats. We share an interest with our friends and partners in the region to stand up to them in the most effective way, and this is what we are doing today,” Mogherini added.

IS has seized swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq and last year declared a “caliphate” in areas under its control, imposing its brutal interpretation of Islam and committing widespread atrocities.

Jihadists have flocked to Syria since anti government protests broke out in 2011 and escalated into a multi sided civil war in which more than 200,000 people have died.

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