‘Islamic State significantly damaged’

252Belgium EU Islamic State ResponseAir strikes carried out by the US-led coalition on Islamic State (IS) have inflicted “significant” damage on the group’s capabilities, US Secretary of State John Kerry says.

But he warned that military action alone would not defeat the group, adding that it was necessary to destroy its ideology, funding and recruitment.

The US said earlier that Iran, not a coalition member, had carried out air strikes against IS in Iraq.

However, Iran has denied this.

The US said there had been no coordination with the Iranians on any air strikes.

IS controls large areas of Syria and Iraq, imposing a rigid version of Sunni Islam and persecuting or killing non-believers.

Islamic State “is still perpetrating terrible crimes but there was a consensus that the momentum which it had exhibited two-and-a-half months ago has been halted,” Mr Kerry said after a meeting of foreign ministers and officials from all the nations involved in the coalition.

He earlier praised the effectiveness of coalition air strikes, saying they were “already having a significant impact”.

Two months of air strikes had “reduced Daesh’s [IS] leadership and inflicted damage on its logistical and operational capabilities,” he added.

But Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has described the air strikes as ineffective, speaking in a rare interview with a French magazine due to be published in full today.

“You can’t end terrorism with aerial strikes. Troops on the ground that know the land and can react are essential,” he told Paris Match.

“That is why there haven’t been any tangible results in the two months of strikes led by the coalition.”

The US state department says nearly 60 countries are coalition members, although most play no direct role in the air strikes.

At the Brussels meeting, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg he would formally ask the alliance to help train Iraqi forces, according to Nato spokeswoman Oana Lungescu.

Significant differences remain between the US and Turkey, with Turkey demanding the establishment of a safe area along part of its border with Syria before it allows its air bases to be used to launch air strikes.

Iran’s foreign ministry earlier denied reports of military co-operation with other countries in the fight against IS. — BBC

 

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