US calls for coalition to ‘destroy’ IS group

Top diplomatic and defence leaders urge 10 Western nations to help pursue the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

The US says the coalition must build a plan by the time the UN General Assembly meets later this month [EPA]

The United States has called for the creation of a broad international coalition to go after and “destroy” the Islamic State group, and build a plan by the time the UN General Assembly meets later this month.

US secretary of state John Kerry and defence secretary Chuck Hagel, pressed a core coalition of 10 nations at a NATO summit in Wales on Friday to go after the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria militarily and financially.

“There is no time to waste in building a broad international coalition to degrade and, ultimately, to destroy the threat posed by the Islamic State,” Kerry and Hagel said in a joint statement.

In a private meeting with the foreign and defence ministers from the UK, France, Germany, Canada, Australia, Turkey, Italy, Poland and Denmark, Kerry said there were many ways each country could contribute in the fight against IS.

“We need to attack them in ways that prevent them from taking over territory,” Kerry told the meeting.

While noting that there would not be many willing to engage in military strikes, he said countries could instead provide intelligence, equipment, ammunition or weapons.

The session focused on the Islamic State group in Iraq, but Kerry said there are obviously “implications about Syria in this” and suggested they could discuss that later in the day.

The US has launched air strikes against IS targets in Iraq, and has been accused by the Syrian opposition of applying double standards as it has not yet intervened against the group in Syria, where it also controls large areas in the north.

International support

Al Jazeera’s diplomatic editor James Bays, reporting from the NATO summit, said no one was talking about military action but focusing on international condemnation of the IS and intelligence sharing between countries.

“I think all the NATO countries agree that they are opposed to IS, they want its destruction and they will sign up to this coalition. The effort then is to get partners in the region, particularly Gulf states, involved.”

British prime minister David Cameron appeared to rule out launching immediate air strikes on the IS.

“Let’s be clear, what is required is not some Western intervention that leaves others in the region to pick up the pieces,” he said.

“What is required is action on the ground, from the Kurds, from the new Iraqi government, from the neighbouring states.”

He stressed that the UK is already playing a role: “We’re arming the Kurds, we’re helping the Iraqi government, we’re flying missions over Iraq, we’re supplying humanitarian aid.”

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French president Francois Hollande said France would join a military coalition to help battle Islamic State fighters in Iraq if asked by the government there, but did not provide specific details. 

In another act of support, Canada announced it would deploy military officials to Iraq to advise government forces.

“The fanaticism of the [Islamic State] terrorist group is a real threat to regional security and millions of innocent people in Iraq, Syria and beyond,” Canada’s rime minister Stephen Harper said at the NATO summit.

Germany, which has also decided to aid Kurdish fighters battling the Islamic State group, has already sent a plane carrying the first shipment of military aid for Iraq.

The plane that left Germany on Friday was stocked with protective vests, helmets, night vision telescopes, communications equipment and devices for mine search and disposal, a military officer said.

IS, formerly known as ISIL, grew out of the US-led war in Iraq, and entered the civil war in Syria last year.

The group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared himself the leader of a caliphate earlier this year after seizing control of vast swaths of territory straddling the borders of Iraq and Syria.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies