US bombs IS near Baghdad for first time

September 16, 2014 8:11 am

The Paris statement made no mention of Syria, where extremists hold a quarter of the country and where Bashar al Assad’s regime still had friends around the Paris conference table, including Russia.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, attending the talks, stressed again that “we’re not going to coordinate with the Syrians.”

However he added that Obama had made it clear that “he will hunt down ISIL (Islamic State) wherever they may be, and that includes Syria.”

Another senior US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, warned that US forces will target Syrian anti aircraft systems if they take aim at American planes conducting strikes inside Syria against Islamic State rebels.

– ‘No time to lose’ –

On the ground in Iraq, sporadic clashes broke out near the town of Dhuluiyah, north of Baghdad, where security forces and allied tribesmen prepared for an operation against IS led militants.

The area would appear to be the target of the next major drive against IS in Iraq, after a successful operation to break the siege of the town of Amerli farther north.

As if to stress the urgency of the campaign against IS, France’s defence minister announced just hours ahead of the conference that Paris was joining Britain in carrying out reconnaissance flights in support of the ongoing US air campaign.

Shortly afterwards, two French Rafale fighter jets took off from the Al Dhafra base in the United Arab Emirates.

And in Brussels, NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen urged military action, calling IS “a group of terrorists with whom there is no chance whatsoever to negotiate.”

The Paris meeting was the latest in a series of frantic diplomatic efforts to build a broad global coalition against the jihadists, and German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier said meetings would come “thick and fast” ahead of a UN general assembly next week.

Ten Arab states including Saudi Arabia are among the countries backing the US-led coalition, and Australia has pledged 600 troops.

“We are not building a military coalition for an invasion but for a transformation as well as for the elimination of ISIL,” Kerry told reporters, using an alternative name for IS.

“We are fighting an ideology, not a regime.”

However, Iran, which was not invited to the conference, said it had rejected US overtures to help in the fight against the militants.

Iran, like Iraq, is majority Shiite, while IS is made up of Sunni fighters who target Shiite Muslims.

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