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'All bases covered' in coalition bid to crush IS
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Sept 14, 2014

Murdered aid worker's brother says Islam 'not to blame'
London (AFP) Sept 14 - The brother of British hostage David Haines murdered by Islamist militants issued Sunday a tearful video statement about growing religious radicalisation in which he quoted a verse from the Koran.

"We are seeing more and more radicalisation in every walk of life. It is not a race, religion or political issue, it is a human issue," Mike Haines told British media.

His voice breaking with emotion, Haines read out a passage from the Koran saying: "Since good and evil cannot be equal, repel thou evil with something that is better."

He added: "The Muslim faith is not to blame for ISIL, nor is it the fault of people of Middle Eastern descent."

Aid worker Haines was kidnapped in Syria in March 2013.

His murder was revealed in a video released late on Saturday by militants from Islamic State - also referred to as ISIL - an extremist group that has taken over a vast territory in Iraq and Syria in recent months.

"ISIL are extremely dangerous and pose a threat to every nation, every religion, every politics, every person," Mike Haines said, adding that British jihadists who return to the country should "face the consequences of their actions".

France begins spy flights to back US Iraq air campaign
Al-Dhafra, United Arab Emirates (AFP) Sept 15 - France has joined Britain in carrying out reconnaissance flights in support of the US air campaign against jihadists launched in Iraq early last month, the defence minister said on Monday.

"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.

Shortly afterwards, two French Rafale fighter jets took off from the base, an AFP correspondent reported.

Le Drian's visit came as Paris prepared to host an international conference on a fightback against militants of the Islamic State, who have seized swathes of Iraq and neighbouring Syria.

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

Britain 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.

Le Drian said his trip to the base "comes at a time of extreme seriousness" over the threat posed by IS.

"We must be ready to intervene," he told the French troops at the base, located about 30 kilometres (20 miles) southwest of UAE capital Abu Dhabi.

UN Security Council blasts 'heinous' murder of British aid worker
United Nations, United States (AFP) Sept 14 - The UN Security Council on Sunday condemned the "heinous and cowardly murder" of British aid worker David Haines by an Islamic State militant.

"This crime is a tragic reminder of the increasing dangers humanitarian personnel face every day in Syria," the council emphasized in a statement, adopted unanimously by its 15 members.

The statement called for aid workers to be respected in conflict zones and "stressed again that ISIL must be defeated and that the intolerance, violence and hatred it espouses must be stamped out."

Using an alternate acronym for the group, the council members emphasized that "such continued acts of barbarism perpetrated by ISIL do not intimidate them but rather stiffen their resolve that there has to be a common effort" against it and other jihadist groups.

The council also called for the "immediate, safe and unconditional release of all those who are kept hostage" by IS and other groups associated with Al-Qaeda. It urged all states "to cooperate actively" with Britain's efforts to bring the perpetrators of Haines' execution to justice.

"All bases are covered" in a US-led multinational coalition against the Islamic State, John Kerry said, as Washington rallies diplomatic and public support to smash the jihadists.

The US Secretary of State told CBS's Face the Nation that there were allies willing to join the United States in air strikes on IS, which has overrun large swaths of northern Iraq and Syria in a brutal and lightning campaign that has seen beheadings and forced religious conversions.

"Some" had offered to put troops on the ground to defeat IS, Kerry said in the interview aired Sunday, adding: "But we are not looking for that at this moment anyway."

Kerry was speaking in Cairo on Saturday, before news of the latest IS beheading of a Western hostage, Briton David Haines, and ahead of a likely Congress vote this week on President Barack Obama's plan to train and equip Syrian rebels, a key plank in his strategy to destroy IS.

That strategy was outlined Wednesday by Obama in a primetime televised speech to the nation, in which he announced expanded US air strikes in Iraq against IS and said he envisaged new action against the radical group in neighboring Syria.

Obama plans to train "moderate" Syrian rebels to take on IS and to reconstitute the Iraqi army, parts of which fled an IS blitzkrieg across northern and western Iraq.

Kerry, who has been touring the Middle East drumming up support for the US-led coalition, told CBS that allies in the Middle East and beyond were ready to help in the battle against IS, which has executed two American reporters in graphic videos which sparked revulsion.

"Every single aspect of the president's (Obama) strategy, and what is needed to be done in order to accomplish our goal, has been offered by one country or multiple countries, and all bases are covered," Kerry told CBS.

Opposition forces would do the fighting on the ground in Syria, augmented by US and allied air support, he said, adding that Washington would not coordinate air attacks on the militants with the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, but would ensure their forces do not come into conflict.

"We will certainly want to deconflict and make certain that they're (Syria) not about to do something that they might regret even more seriously," Kerry said.

"But we're not going to coordinate, it's not a cooperative effort."

Australia was among the latest to make a concrete commitment to the growing coalition, Prime Minister Tony Abbott saying that Canberra would deploy 600 troops to the United Arab Emirates, a regional Washington ally.

Ten Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, are among the countries backing the coalition.

Speaking in Paris, Kerry's latest port of call on his whistlestop coalition-building trip, a US official said the number of countries signing on was "going up almost every hour," from Europe and the Middle East right across to Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.

- What is success? -

Obama's intent to "degrade and ultimately destroy" IS drew a skeptical response in Washington, with critics noting that even Al-Qaeda has not been eradicated, despite a 13-year US-led war against it.

War-weary Democrats worry that maximalist US goals could suck the United States back into intractable Middle East ground wars, while Republicans criticized the president for not going far enough, having consistently ruled out US troops on the ground.

In a series of interviews on US television Sunday, including on NBC's Meet the Press, White House chief of staff Denis McDonough clarified Washington's goals.

"Success looks like an ISIL that no longer threatens our friends in the region, no longer threatens the United States," he said, using an alternative acronym for the Islamic State, which has declared a "caliphate" straddling Syria and Iraq.

"An ISIL that can't accumulate followers, or threaten Muslims in Syria, Iran, Iraq, or otherwise. And that's exactly what success looks like."

Polls show US public sentiment swinging sharply behind US action since IS posted a video showing the beheading of American hostage James Foley last month. But they also show the public still appears doubtful that the president's strategy will work.


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