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Obama To Address UN Amid New Air Strikes Targeting Islamic State

  • RFE/RL

U.S. President Barack Obama will address the United Nations General Assembly on September 24 amid a U.S.-led international air campaign against Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq and Syria.

After weeks of launching strikes against militant targets in Iraq, Obama extended the military action into Syria on September 22, joined by a coalition of Arab nations.

Administration officials said that the growing U.S. military role in the Middle East will be the centerpiece of the Obama's address to the UN General Assembly.

Officials said Obama will also address ways the United States has sought to mobilize international action to resolve the Ukraine and Ebola crises.

Obama will also hold his first one-on-one meeting September 24 with new Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who took office earlier this year.

Later on September 24, the president will convene an unusual meeting of the UN Security Council during which members were expected to adopt a resolution that would require all countries to prevent the recruitment and transport of would-be foreign fighters preparing to join terrorist groups such as the Islamic State group.

On September 23, Obama, speaking at the White House before leaving for the UN General Assembly in New York, pledged to continue the fight against Islamic State.

The U.S. president also said the participation of the five Arab countries in the aerial campaign "makes it clear to the world” that the United States is not alone in battling the IS fighters.

Obama said the United States is "proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder" with Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates in the aerial campaign.

He hailed the support of the Arab countries, saying: "This is not America's fight alone."

The U.S. president also warned that the joint fight against the IS militants will “take time,” adding that Washington will "do what is necessary" to defeat the group.

In a letter to Congress, Obama said, "It is not possible to know the duration of these deployments and operations."

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby described the bombings as "very successful."

The Pentagon earlier said the United States conducted 14 strikes on September 22 against targets linked to IS -- also known as ISIS and ISIL -- using fighter jets, bombers, remotely piloted drones, and Tomahawk missiles.

The Pentagon also said eight separate U.S. air strikes were aimed at a group of former Al-Qaeda operatives known as the Khorasan Group and took place in Aleppo Province.

The action was meant to disrupt an "imminent attack" against U.S. and Western interests by "seasoned Al-Qaeda veterans" who had established a safe haven in Syria.

It said targets included training camps, an explosives and munitions production facility, a communication building, and command-and-control facilities.

The State Department said the United States warned Damascus in advance "not to engage U.S. aircraft," adding that Washington did not request permission or give advance notice of the timing of the attacks.

Russia and Iran, two allies of Assad’s regime, said the air strikes violated Syria's sovereignty and international law.

The United States estimates that about two-thirds of the estimated 31,000 Islamic State militants are in Syria.

IS militants have captured large swaths of territory stretching from within Syria to land across northern and western Iraq.

With reporting by AFP and AP
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