3:06 am - Tuesday January 22, 2019

40 countries offer to contribute to international coalition against IS

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US Secretary of State John Kerry has said nearly 40 countries have offered to contribute to an international coalition to fight Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.

Mr Kerry said he was not asking any ally to commit troops.

Speaking ahead of a conference in Paris today, Mr Kerry said several Arab countries had offered to take part in airstrikes against the jihadists, but any such action would be subject to approval from the Iraqi government.

Today’s conference was organised to discuss possible action against Islamic State militants, with representatives from 20 countries including Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Iraqi President Fouad Massoum expected to attend.

The international meeting has been given added urgency following the beheading of a third Western hostage, British aid worker David Haines, on Saturday.

France supports US air campaign against IS militants

France has joined the UK in carrying out reconnaissance flights in support of the US air campaign against jihadists launched in Iraq early last month, according to France’s defence minister.

“This very morning, the first reconnaissance flights will be carried out in agreement with the Iraqi and Emirati authorities,” Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told French troops, including pilots, at the Al-Dhafra base in the United Arab Emirates.

The UK had already been conducting extensive surveillance flights over Iraq in support of the US from its regional base in Cyprus, but has so far held back from carrying out strikes on IS targets.

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