President Obama calls for friends and allies to take on the ISIS threat
U.S. air strikes are the most significant foreign military role so far
Germany, France and Italy pledge military aid to Iraq; Britain may send trainers
Syria also bombs ISIS forces, but Washington rejects any common fight
A cancer with no place in the 21st Century. A poison opposed with “every breath in our body.”
Talk is tough against ISIS, the Sunni jihadists rampaging through Syria and northern Iraq, following the group’s release of a video showing the beheading American journalist James Foley.
But what is the international community actually doing? Here is a breakdown by country of steps taken or announced:
More than two years after President Barack Obama brought home combat troops from a lengthy war in Iraq, a new mission creeps upward.
First came dozens of military advisers – the buzz term for military involvement from the Vietnam War – sent by Obama in June to work with Iraqi and Kurdish forces in response to the lightning sweep by ISIS fighters from Syria across northern Iraq.
Then on August 8, the President escalated U.S. involvement with limited air strikes against ISIS to protect American personnel in Iraq as well as minority communities threatened with extermination.
U.S. Central Command has conducted 90 airstrikes, including six after Obama pledged Wednesday to continue hitting ISIS despite the group’s threat to kill another American captive.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Thursday that Washington also was providing weapons and other military aid to Iraqi and Kurdish forces fighting ISIS, though Kurdish officials complain they need more heavy weaponry.
Obama called on friends and allies to band together against the militants he accused of indiscriminate killings, abductions and rapes, saying the group had “no place in the 21st Century.”
Next month, Obama will hold a leaders meeting on the threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters as part of the U.N. General Assembly.
Prime Minister David Cameron cut short his August vacation after the beheading video showed a hooded man with a British accent threatening the United States and killing Foley.
With estimates of about 500 Britons having traveled to Iraq and Syria to join ISIS, Cameron said his government would take away passports and prosecute those who take part in such extremism and violence.
Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond called ISIS a cancer and a poison, declaring in a BBC interview that “we are opposed to them with every breath in our body.”
While saying Britain might send military trainers – akin to U.S. advisers – to work with Iraqi government forces, Hammond made clear no combat troops would take part in fighting against ISIS.
President Francois Hollande has announced military aid for Kurdish fighters, and he called for an international meeting next month on combating ISIS. It wasn’t immediately clear how Hollande’s proposed meeting would differ from the one Obama will host in New York.
“We can no longer keep to the traditional debate of intervention or non-intervention,” Hollande said in an interview with the French newspaper Le Monde. “We have to come up with a global strategy to fight this group.”
The German government also will provide weapons and other military supplies to Kurdish forces after previously limiting its help to non-lethal aid. Like France, Germany has no plans to send military personnel.
Italian officials said the government was looking at sending light weapons such as guns and ammunition to Kurdish forces.
The ISIS sweep through northern Iraq got a lot of help from Syria, where the extremists have fought the opposition forces seeking to oust President Bashar al-Assad.
Now, ISIS fighters are taking over swathes of Syrian territory once held by al-Assad’s forces, causing the government to launch air strikes on the militants.
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf rejected any contention that the fight against ISIS could unite Washington and Damascus against a common enemy, noting the Obama administration still wants al-Assad out of power.
“I don’t want to in any way put us on the same page as the Syrian regime,” she said Wednesday, accusing the Syrian regime of permitting ISIS to grow to what it is today. “While on the right hand, the Syrian regime might be bombing them, on the left hand, everything they’ve done has allowed this group to flourish.”
On Thursday, Hagel refused to rule out the possibility of U.S. air strikes against ISIS in Syria as well as Iraq.
The Middle East region
On another front, the United States is working with governments in the region, including Turkey, Qatar and Jordan, to cut funding for ISIS from private citizens, Harf said.