Anti-ISIL coalition to train Syria opposition fighters

US secretary of state tells anti-ISIL UK summit that forces will be trained in camps in Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar.

    Anti-ISIL coalition to train Syria opposition fighters
    The meeting examined ways of intensifying the coalition campaign against ISIL in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere [EPA]

    The US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has announced it intends to step-up its training of Syrian opposition forces in camps in the region, as well as establishing a fund to help those affected by ISIL when it is "long gone".

    US Secretary of State John Kerry made the announcements after a meeting of 21 coalition members in London on Thursday.

    "This spring, we're going to begin training Syrian opposition forces in camps in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Qatar", Kerry said.

    "We're also concerned with helping Daesh's (ISIL's) victims to rebuild their lives once Daesh is long gone."

    ISIL has threatened to kill two Japanese hostages unless a ransom is paid, with the stated deadline fast approaching

    The talks examined ways of intensifying the assault on ISIL in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere by doing more militarily, looking at ways to cut off the group's finances and how to stem the flow of foreign fighters.

    Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who was also among those attending the meeting, announced that coalition forces had agreed to defer payments for armaments for Iraq, as well as providing their free shipment.

    Earlier in the day, Britain's foreign minister warned it could take up to two years to expel the group from Iraq.

    Philip Hammond said that the task of pushing ISIL back in Iraq would be slow, and that while Iraqi forces were getting better they were still some way off from being able to launch a major ground offensive.

    "This isn't going to be done in three months or six months. It's going to take a year, two years to push ISIL back out of Iraq but we are doing the things that need to be done in order to turn the tide," Hammond told Sky News.

    Analysis from our correspondent:  Imran Khan
    Al Jazeera's Imran Khan

    "Although many have applauded the efforts of the West against ISIL, this meeting has more than a few people in the Arab world worried. The key things being discussed are the effectiveness of air strikes, returning foreign fighters and the state of the Iraqi army and its ability to fight ISIL.

    But what is interesting about the West's approach is what might not be discussed. Over the last year, several Iraqi officials have spoken to me about a long term solution to the ISIL crisis and it always circles back to two key points. ISIL will not be defeated without a solution in Syria that is political in nature and includes President Bashar al-Assad and the multitude of rebel groups.

    Secondly, serious outreach work to Iraq's Sunnis, who are key to not just defeating ISIL in a military capacity, but also ideologically, is crucial. ISIL didn’t spring up in isolation, they took advantage of the war in Iraq and then the chaos in Syria to expand.

    The idea behind ISIL, its ability to recruit and keep its safe havens in Iraq and Syria, goes beyond simple military power. The current strategy of isolating the Syrian regime hasn't worked. It's interesting that the British foreign secretary has already talked about Iraqi army capacity but scarcely mentioned Syria.

    Across the Arab world there is fear that once again, a pan-Arab solution to the regional issues the conflict in Iraq and Syria raises is being ignored in conferences such as these."

    Abadi met British Prime Minister David Cameron beforehand, the Reuters news agency reported. 

    Cameron told him Britain was ready to do more.

    "The threat from extremist terror you face in Iraq is also a threat we face here in the United Kingdom," Cameron said.

    "We will do everything we can to help stop foreign fighters coming to your country and creating the mayhem we see today."

    The London meeting takes place a day after Kurdish forces in northern Iraq said they had cleared ISIL fighters from nearly 500 square kilometres of territory and broken a key ISIL supply line between the city of Mosul and strongholds to the west near Syria.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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