Date
15 December 2017
John Kerry has been visiting countries in the Middle East to drum up support for a US-led coalition against Islamic State jihadists. Photo: Reuters
John Kerry has been visiting countries in the Middle East to drum up support for a US-led coalition against Islamic State jihadists. Photo: Reuters

Kerry: Arab nations ready to join fight against militants

Arab countries will join a United States-led coalition to fight Islamic State militants, according to Reuters, citing US State Secretary John Kerry.

Kerry has been touring the Middle East to secure backing for US efforts to build an international response to the jihadists who have been annexing territory in Syria and Iraq and ramping up beheadings to spread Islamist propaganda.

On Sunday, Australia announced it will send troops but Britain is holding back even as the group beheaded British hostage David Haines and threatened to kill another.      

“We have countries in this region, countries outside of this region, in addition to the United States, all of whom are prepared to engage in military assistance, in actual strikes if that is what it requires,” Kerry he told the CBS program Face the Nation.

Australia became the first country to detail troop numbers and aircraft to fight the militants in Iraq. It said it would send a 600-strong force and eight fighter jets to the region but did not intend to operate in Syria.

Meanwhile Russia, at odds with the West over Ukraine, has said any air strikes in Syria would be an act of aggression without the consent of President Bashar al-Assad or an international mandate.

Britain, often the first country to join US military action overseas, held back even after after video footage of the killing of Haines was released on Saturday.

Prime Minister David Cameron called the killing of Haines, a 44 year-old Scottish aid worker, callous and brutal and hailed him as a “British hero”.

He called IS “the embodiment of evil”  and said his government was prepared “to take whatever steps are necessary” against the militants.

But he did not announce any air strikes, mindful of war-weary public opinion, parliament’s rejection last year of air strikes on Syria and sensitivities surrounding Scotland’s independence referendum on Thursday.

Britain and the US have ruled out sending ground troops back into Iraq and Kerry did not say which countries had offered, the report said.

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CG/RA 

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