Obama urges world to fight IS 'network of death'

24th September 2014, Comments 0 comments

President Barack Obama urged the world Wednesday to unite to defeat a jihadist "network of death" in Iraq and Syria, as militants defied air strikes and executed a French hostage.

As coalition warplanes returned from another night of raids, the US leader appealed to the United Nations General Assembly to join his coalition against the so-called Islamic State group.

But even as he spoke, an IS-linked group in Algeria, which had demanded France halt its participation in the strikes, posted video footage of the murder of an abducted Frenchman.

"The United States of America will work with a broad coalition to dismantle this network of death," Obama told the General Assembly. "Today I ask the world to join in this effort."

Overnight, US-led air raids targeted IS fighters threatening the Kurdish regional capital in Iraq and damaged eight militant vehicles operating in eastern Syria near the Iraqi border.

"We will use our military might in a campaign of air strikes to roll back ISIL," he declared, using the acronym for the former Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, since renamed the Islamic State.

"The only language understood by killers like this is the language of force," Obama said in his address to the 193-nation assembly.

The US-led campaign -- in which Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Jordan and France have participated -- took center stage at the United Nations.

On Tuesday, the Pentagon said air raids and cruise missiles had killed a group of Al-Qaeda veterans known as the Khorasan group, allegedly plotting an "imminent" attack against US and Western interests.

US aircraft have carried out 198 air strikes against the jihadist group in Iraq since August 8 and 20 in Syria since Monday.

- Outlawing foreign fighters -

After addressing the General Assembly, Obama was to chair a special UN Security Council meeting during which a resolution will be adopted on stemming the flow of foreign fighters to Iraq and Syria.

The US-drafted resolution calls on countries to "prevent and suppress" recruitment and assistance to foreign fighters, and would make it illegal to collect funds or organize their travel.

"Those who joined ISIL should leave the battlefield while they can," Obama warned in his address.

The resolution falls under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which means it could be enforced by economic sanctions or military action.

Al-Qaeda's Syrian branch, the Al-Nusra Front, said Wednesday that it is evacuating its bases and positions in the northeastern province of Idlib.

Ahrar al-Sham, a key Islamist rebel group allied with Nusra, was also evacuating its positions in the region, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said.

Obama's appeal for support was coupled with a call to Muslim countries to reject jihadist Islam, by cutting off funding to extremists and countering propaganda on the Internet.

"The ideology of ISIL or al-Qaeda or Boko Haram will wilt and die if it is consistently exposed, confronted and refuted in the light of day," said Obama.

More than 40 countries have aligned themselves with the US-led campaign but a question mark hangs over Iran, which backs the Iraqi government but is also an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

British Prime Minister David Cameron held talks at the United Nations with Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, the first meeting between the countries' leaders since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Rouhani posted a photograph of himself smiling as he shook hands with Cameron at the British mission at the United Nations.

Cameron is due to address the Assembly later Wednesday.

- French hostage murdered -

French President Francois Hollande, whose country opposed the 2003 Iraq war but has sent Rafale fighters into action over Iraq, is also due to take to the podium.

His speech has been overshadowed by the murder of Herve Goudel, a 55-year-old hiker from the French city of Nice, who was kidnapped Sunday by Jund al-Khilifa, a group linked to the Islamic State.

IS militants in Syria had already killed two American journalists and a British aid worker, but Goudel's death was the first at the hands of an allied group outside the core area since the US campaign began.

A massive manhunt had been under way in Algeria to rescue Gourdel after Hollande had vowed not to give in to the jihadists' demand that he abandon

The video, entitled "A Message with Blood to the French Government," was posted on jihadist websites.

It begins with a clip of Hollande before showing Gourdel on his knees with his hands behind his back, surrounded by four armed militants whose faces were covered.

One of the jihadists reads a speech in which he denounces the intervention of the "French criminal crusaders" against Muslims in Algeria, Mali and Iraq.

© 2014 AFP

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