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An international conference will be held in Kuwait on Monday to deal with the Islamic State’s messaging, the US Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced yesterday.
In a statement the ministry said: “Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Richard Stengel will travel to Kuwait to lead the US delegation for the October 27 conference of coalition partners focused on countering ISIS messaging and combating violent extremism in the region.”
“The government of Kuwait is hosting the conference and senior officials from Bahrain, Egypt, France, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the UAE, have been invited to participate.”
The statement noted that the “conference will present an opportunity for an in-depth exchange of ideas for increasing cooperation among coalition partners.”
In this Sept. 23, 2014 photo provided by the U.S Air Force, an F-22A Raptor taxis in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility prior to strike operations in Syria. U.S. coalition-led warplanes struck Islamic State group militants near the northern Syrian town of Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab, near the Turkish border for the first time Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014, activists and a Kurdish official said. The coalition, which began its aerial campaign against Islamic State fighters in Syria early Tuesday, aims to roll back and ultimately crush the extremist group, which has created a proto-state spanning the Syria-Iraq border. (AP Photo/U.S. Air Force, Russ Scalf).
The U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group is growing, with dozens of countries among its ranks. The coalition is contributing a wide range of efforts, from carrying out airstrikes to providing military assistance and humanitarian aid.
Here are some of the key partners in the coalition.
The U.S., which is leading the coalition, has launched dozens of airstrikes on Islamic State targets. It also has sent military advisers, supplies and humanitarian aid to help Iraqi troops and Kurdish forces beat back the insurgents.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have participated in airstrikes in Syria. A fourth, Qatar, has played what the Pentagon called a supporting role.
The Emirates and Qatar also host air bases that are being used for the coalition’s aerial campaign against the Islamic State group. U.S. Navy ships involved in the airstrikes are assigned to the Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet. Saudi Arabia has agreed to host training facilities for Syrian rebels on its territory.
Jordan has launched airstrikes against Islamic State positions, with government spokesman Mohammad al-Momani calling the move “necessary in light of continuous attempts to infiltrate our borders.” The kingdom didn’t give any specifics about its operations, but said the airstrikes aim to insure the country’s security.
Egypt hasn’t announced any specific participation in airstrikes, but President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi told the AP that Egypt is “completely committed to giving support,” and will do “whatever is required” to support the coalition.
Israel is offering intelligence estimates and concrete intelligence to the U.S. on the Islamic State group as part of ongoing intelligence sharing between the two countries, an Israeli defense official said. But, he added, Israel wasn’t asked to contribute anything beyond that. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly on the issue. The prime minister’s office declined to comment.
Britain said that Tornado fighter bombers, supported by air-to-air refueling aircraft and signals intelligence, are operating over Iraq. Britain’s media has widely reported that six warplanes are on standby in Cyprus, but defense officials have declined to offer specific numbers. Ben Goodlad from IHS Jane’s has said that the Tornado jets offer the coalition enhanced capability to engage moving targets. Britain also has two weapons for long-range strikes: the Tornado’s Storm Shadow cruise missile and the submarine-launched Tomahawk cruise missile, he said.
France has carried out airstrikes in Iraq on two occasions since joining the U.S.-led coalition on Sept. 19, firing laser-guided bombs from Rafale fighter planes upon munitions and military hardware stockpiles — first near northern Mosul, then on Thursday, near Fallujah. France is conducting the operations in Iraq from a French air base in the United Arab Emirates. The base, with about 750 French service personnel and six Rafales, is 1,700 kilometers (1,050 miles) from Mosul, meaning that the planes need refueling in flight to strike in Iraq.
An Australian air force contingent, including eight F/A-18 Hornet jet fighters and two support aircraft, has arrived in the United Arab Emirates. About 600 troops — most of them air force personnel — are being deployed with the aircraft. The jets are expected to be used in airstrikes against Islamic State fighters in Iraq, although the Australian government has yet to commit to a combat role.
Six F-16 multirole fighters and a contingent of 120 support staff, including eight pilots, to be based in Jordan. Authorized to take part in operations over Iraq for one month, subject to extension if approved by the Belgian government.
Denmark has pledged seven F-16 fighter jets — four operational planes and three reserve jets along with pilots and support staff for 12 months. The U.S. also has asked Danes to provide military trainers to Iraq to school Iraqi and Kurdish fighters battling the Islamic State group on the ground. Denmark has already contributed a transport plane with personnel to a U.S.-led humanitarian operation in northern Iraq.
Canada has contributed about 70 special operations soldiers to offer instruction to Kurdish forces battling Islamic State militants in northern Iraq. Early this week, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Cabinet will be considering a U.S. request to support airstrikes against Islamic State forces. This could include five to eight CF-18 fighter aircraft as well as tanker aircraft. Canada has already contributed two military cargo planes that carried weapons to Kurdish fighters.
Germany isn’t participating in any airstrikes against the Islamic State group. They have sent weapons to Kurdish fighters in Irbil, and a group of Kurdish peshmerga fighters arrived in Germany to receive weapons’ training here by the German army. There’s also German military in Irbil to train the peshmerga fighters in Irbil.
Greece is participating with humanitarian aid and by sending ammunition for Kurdish forces fighting the Islamic State group. They haven’t specified any more details on quantities or type of humanitarian aid.
Georgia will be providing humanitarian assistance, not military aid, according to comments made by Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili on Thursday to local news websites.
Hungary has promised to send 15 types of ammunition totaling nearly 6 million units to Iraqi Kurds. Most of the ammunition, 4.1 million cartridges, was the M43 type for the AK-47 assault rifle.
Prime Minister Victor Ponta said his country would offer “logistic, operational and humanitarian” support to the coalition, but not troops. He provided no details of the assistance.
Poland supports the coalition against the Islamic State, but is not actively engaged in combat.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (C) confers with Russia’s Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin (R) before addressing the U.N. Security Council during the 69th U.N. General Assembly in New York. Brendan McDermid / Reuters
Moscow opposes calls to limit veto rights for UN Security Council members, a Russian diplomat was quoted as saying by TASS news agency Friday.
“We’re against any change in veto rights,” Russia’s envoy to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, said on the sidelines of the 69th UN General Assembly in New York.
He added that “talks about a reform of the Security Council need to continue,” but did not elaborate.
A proposal to suspend veto rights in the event of grave crimes against humanity that mandate urgent reaction, pitched in 2013 by France, was revived at a high-profile discussion at the assembly.
Separately, Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski urged a reform of the Security Council in a speech at the assembly.
Komorowski gave no outline for the reform, but explicitly linked his calls to the conflict in eastern Ukraine, where Russia is accused of backing pro-Moscow separatists who are fighting the Ukrainian army.
The Security Council, established in 1946, is the only UN body whose decisions are binding for members.
The council, which hands out mandates on military and peacekeeping operations, has five permanent members: Russia, the United States, Britain, France and China, all of whom can veto a decision.
The council also has 10 non-permanent members, which hold positions for two-year terms, but they have no veto rights.
Russia has repeatedly deployed its veto in recent years to block decisions lobbied by Western powers, including draft resolutions on war-torn Syria and Ukraine.
by ZEINA KARAM.
NEW YORK (AP) — Iraq’s prime minister said Thursday that captive Islamic State militants told his intelligence agents of an alleged plot to attack subways in the United States and Paris.
There was no immediate comment from Washington or France. A half-dozen French officials contacted by The Associated Press said they knew of no plot.
Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi said he was told of the purported plot by officials in Baghdad, and that it was the work of foreign fighters who had joined the Islamic State group in Iraqi, including French and U.S. nationals.
Asked if the attacks were imminent, he said, “I’m not sure.” Asked if the attacks had been thwarted, he said, “No, it has not been disrupted yet… this is a network.”
“Today, while I’m here I’m receiving accurate reports from Baghdad that there were arrests of a few elements and there were networks from inside Iraq to have attacks … on metros of Paris and U.S.,” al-Abadi said, speaking in English. “They are not Iraqis. Some of them are French, some of them are Americans. But they are in Iraq.”
He made the remarks at a meeting with journalists on the sidelines of a gathering of world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly.
Al-Abadi declined to give the location in the U.S. where the said attack was being plotted.
The Islamic State extremists’ blitz in Iraq and Syria prompted the United State to launch airstrikes in Iraq last month, to aid Kurdish forces who were battling the militants and to protect religious minorities.
In addition to the brutality Islamic State has visited on the people in Iraq and Syria, western leaders have voiced concern that the group would move its terror operations outside the region.
This week, the U.S. and five allied Arab states expanded the aerial campaign into Syria, where the militant group is battling President Bashar Assad’s forces as well as Western-backed rebels.
Western leaders have voiced concern that the Islamic State group would move its terror operations outside the Middle East.
John Miller, the New York Police Department’s top counterterror official, said they were aware of the Iraqi official’s statements “and we are in close contact with the FBI and other federal partners as we assess this particular threat stream.”
New York is the home to the country’s largest subway system.
(AP writer Jake Pearson in New York contributed to this report).
In this still image from video published on the Internet on Wednesday by a group calling itself Jund al-Khilafah, or Soldiers of the Caliphate, members of the group stand behind French mountaineer Herve Gourdel just before beheading him. In the video, the men pledge their allegiance to the leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, before killing Gourdel, 55, who they abducted on Sunday. | AP
RABAT – Algerian extremists allied with the Islamic State group have decapitated a French hostage after France ignored their demand to stop airstrikes in Iraq, according to a video obtained Wednesday by a U.S.-based terrorism watchdog.
A group calling itself Jund al-Khilafah, or Soldiers of the Caliphate, had said they would kill French mountaineer Herve Gourdel after abducting him Sunday unless France ended its airstrikes against Islamic State fighters in Iraq within 24 hours.
The French government insisted it would not back down.
In the video, masked gunmen from the newly formed group that split away from al-Qaida’s North Africa branch, pledged their allegiance to the leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and said they were fighting his enemies. They criticized the French attacks in Iraq as well as its intervention against radical Islamists in Mali.
Terrorism watchdog SITE Intelligence Group said the video had been posted on social networking site Twitter.
Gourdel — a 55-year-old mountaineering guide from Nice — was seized in the Djura Djura mountains of northern Algeria on Sunday during a hiking trip. His Algerian companions were released.
Algerian forces unleashed a massive search for him in the remote mountainous region that is one of the last strongholds of Islamic extremists in Algeria.
The video resembled those showing the beheadings of two American journalists and a British aid worker in recent weeks, but instead of starting with clips of President Barack Obama speaking, it showed French President Francois Hollande.
France started airstrikes in Iraq on Friday, the first country to join the U.S. military campaign against the Islamic State fighters there.
“Our values are at stake,” French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Wednesday after hearing about the video. He would not comment further, but minutes earlier he insisted that France would continue fighting in Iraq as long as necessary.
Algeria has been fighting Islamic extremists since the 1990s and in recent years they had been largely confined to a few mountainous areas, where they have concentrated on attacking soldiers and police while leaving civilians alone.
The killing of a hostage represents a departure for radical Islamic groups in Algeria that in the past decade have made millions of ransoming hostages.
The new group split away from al-Qaida’s North Africa branch and declared allegiance to the al-Baghdadi’s group in Iraq and Syria and has apparently adopted their tactic of killing hostages.