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Kerry Says 10 Arab States To 'Do Their Share' Against IS Militants

  • RFE/RL

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry looks out over Baghdad from a helicopter during a visit to the Iraqi capital on September 10.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry looks out over Baghdad from a helicopter during a visit to the Iraqi capital on September 10.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says 10 Arab states have agreed to “do their share” in the fight against Islamic State (IS) militants.

Kerry’s remarks in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia came after talks there with senior officials from Turkey, Egypt, and Gulf Arab states on September 11.

Kerry arrived in Jeddah a day after U.S. President Barack Obama outlined a broad strategy to build an international coalition aimed at combating IS militants, who have seized large swathes of territory in northern and western Iraq.

In addition to Saudi Arabia, the other Arab states that have agreed to take part in the U.S.-led coalition are Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

Their commitment reportedly would include cooperation to facilitate air strikes against the militants and to stop the flow of money to them.

Kerry said he would continue to meet with Middle East leaders in the days ahead to build “the broadest coalition possible.”

Kerry also dismissed questions raised by Russia about the legality of the campaign against the militants, saying the government of Iraq has invited the United States and asked for help from Washington and from its neighbors.

Russia's Foreign Ministry said earlier on September 11 that air strikes against Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria without a UN Security Council mandate would be an act of aggression.

Kerry said “Under international law, when a country is invaded and a country invites somebody to come in and help them, we have every right in the world to respond to that request.”

He said: “If it weren’t so serious, what is happening in Ukraine, one might almost laugh at the idea of Russia raising the issue of international law.”

He said he was “surprised that Russia would dare to assert any notion of international law after what has happened in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.”

Obama said on September 10 in a nationally televised speech that the United States is prepared to attack the IS in Syria and Iraq in an intensified campaign to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the militant group, also known as ISIL.

The president said the United States will send an additional 475 U.S. military personnel to Iraq in order to support Iraqi and Kurdish forces fighting the IS, but that these troops would not be engaged in combat.

“I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil," he said.

In addition to announcing “a systemic campaign of air strikes against these terrorists” that could extend to targets in Syria, Obama called on the U.S. Congress to approve additional resources to train and equip moderate Syrian fighters who are battling IS militants.

A senior U.S. administration official told reporters that training would be conducted in Saudi Arabia, which has agreed to host the program.

On September 11, a statement from Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi’s office said Iraq welcomed Obama's strategy of air strikes and support for Baghdad's forces.

However, Iran said the emerging international coalition to battle IS militants was "shrouded in serious ambiguities."

Syria's main Western-backed opposition group, meanwhile, said it stands "ready and willing" to partner with the international community to defeat the militants.

But the Syrian National Coalition said air strikes needed to be coupled with a strategy for ultimately toppling President Bashar al-Assad.

However, British Prime Minister David Cameron's spokesman said later Britain has not ruled out military action against the IS in Syria

"In terms of air power, the prime minister has not ruled anything out and that is the position," Cameron's spokesman told reporters.

The statement came after British Foreign Secretary Hammond, speaking in Berlin, said that Britain "will not be taking part in any airstrikes in Syria."

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP
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