NYT: US Working to Build Coalition to Defeat 'Barbaric Terrorists'

Wednesday, 27 Aug 2014 09:06 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

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The United States is attempting to build a coalition in the Middle East and with close allies around the world to support American military operations against the Islamic State, The New York Times reported.

President Barack Obama said in a speech Tuesday that a united international force would "take the fight to these barbaric terrorists," and that the militants would be "no match" for such a powerful alliance.

White House officials say Britain and Australia would be willing to join the United States with potential airstrikes in Syria against Sunni militants from the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

The officials also wanted Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates to increase their support of moderate Syrian rebels attempting to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The officials, who did not want to be named due to the sensitive nature of the talks with foreign powers, said the United States is also urging Turkey to shore up its porous border with Syria, the Times reported.

Turkey, which has military bases that could be used as launch pads for operations in Syria, has become a transit route for foreign fighters, including militants from the United States and Europe, who have traveled to Syria to join the Islamic State, the Times reported.

The administration also is putting pressure on Jordan for help with intelligence and surveillance and is calling for more financial help from Saudi Arabia, which funds rebels in Syria who are fighting Assad's loyalists.

While attempting to create the coalition to battle Islamic State forces and support Syrian rebels, Obama also is considering launching airstrikes in Syria and expanding its air campaign in northern Iraq.

"Rooting out a cancer like [ISIS] won't be easy, and it won't be quick," Obama said in a speech to the American Legion in Charlotte, N.C.

The administration is particularly concerned about the plight of the northern town of Amreli, where 12,000 residents of Iraq's Turkmen minority have been besieged by the radical Islamists for two months. Obama is said to be considering sending airstrikes and airdrops into the region to help relieve the embattled people.

Administration officials compared the threat to the Turkmen, who are Shiite Muslims and considered to be infidels by the Sunni jihadists, to the danger faced by thousands of Yazidis, who fled to Mount Sinjar in Iraq after their towns had been invaded by brutal Islamic State fighters, the Times said.

The United States has started sending surveillance flights and drones over Syria to record information about Islamic State military positions. The Assad government in Damascus has warned the United States not to strike ISIS positions in Syria without asking permission, Fox News reported.

But State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki flatly rejected the warning, saying "We're not going to ask permission from the Syrian regime."

The Islamic State has captured vast swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria and reportedly committed dozens of atrocities.

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