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Sep 17, 2014

Islamic State campaign tests Obama’s commitment to Mideast allies

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – After about 15 hours of flying and five hours of meetings, sleep finally caught up with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Baghdad. It was 6:04 p.m. 

After sinking into his seat at the center of the cavernous interior of a C-17 military transport plane, he cradled his head in his palm, put his feet on a desk and shut his eyes.

Sep 15, 2014

Iran supreme leader spurns U.S. overture to fight Islamic State

PARIS/DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran’s supreme leader said on Monday he had personally rejected an offer from the United States for talks to fight Islamic State, an apparent blow to Washington’s efforts to build a military coalition to fight militants in both Iraq and Syria.

World powers meeting in Paris on Monday gave public backing to military action to fight Islamic State fighters in Iraq. France sent jets on a reconnaissance mission to Iraq, a step towards becoming the first ally to join the U.S.-led air campaign there.

Sep 15, 2014

Kerry says refuses to be drawn into ‘back and forth’ with Iran

PARIS (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry refused be drawn into a “back and forth” with Iran on Monday following Tehran’s assertion that it had rebuffed a U.S. request to coordinate a response to the Islamic State jihadist group.

“I’m not going to get into a back and forth. I don’t want to do that. I don’t think that is constructive, frankly,” Kerry told reporters at the U.S. ambassador’s residence in Paris after an international conference on Iraq attended by 26 countries.

Sep 15, 2014

Syria’s ‘moderate’ rebels say they need weapons, not training

JEDDAH Saudi Arabia (Reuters) – As President Barack Obama knits together an international coalition to take its campaign against Islamic State from Iraq into Syria, fighters like Ammar al-Wawi could make the difference.

If he had the chance, he says.

He fears that restrictions on the kind of weapons he’ll receive and the training he’ll get under a $500 million White House proposal to arm moderate Syrian rebels will make his job impossible.

Sep 15, 2014

Insight – Syria’s ‘moderate’ rebels say they need weapons, not training

JEDDAH Saudi Arabia (Reuters) – As President Barack Obama knits together an international coalition to take its campaign against Islamic State from Iraq into Syria, fighters like Ammar al-Wawi could make the difference.

If he had the chance, he says.

He fears that restrictions on the kind of weapons he’ll receive and the training he’ll get under a $500 million (307 million pounds) White House proposal to arm moderate Syrian rebels will make his job impossible.

Sep 15, 2014

France opens Iraq conference urging ‘global’ fight on jihadists

PARIS (Reuters) – French President Francois Hollande called on Monday for united international action to tackle the threat from Islamic State militants as he opened a conference on Iraq bringing together members of a U.S.-led coalition.

The United States this week unveiled an outline plan to fight the Islamist militants simultaneously in Iraq and Syria. It believes it can forge a solid alliance despite hesitancy among some partners and questions over the legality of action, notably in Syria where the militant group has a power base.

Sep 14, 2014

Several Arab countries offer to join air campaign on Islamic State, say U.S. officials

PARIS (Reuters) – Several Arab countries have offered to join the United States in air strikes against Islamic State targets, U.S. officials said on Sunday, indicating a possible widening of the air campaign against militants who have seized parts of Iraq and Syria.

The officials declined to identify which countries had made the offers but said they were under consideration as the United States begins to identify roles for each country in its emerging coalition against jihadists who have declared a caliphate in the heart of the Middle East.

Sep 14, 2014

Sisi says coalition must battle Islamic State and others

CAIRO (Reuters) – Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi told visiting U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that any global coalition against terrorism should battle not just Islamic State but other groups as well, the presidency said on Saturday.

Egyptian security officials have said Islamic State has established contacts with Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, the country’s most dangerous militant group, which has killed hundreds of security forces since the army toppled Islamist President Mohamed Mursi last year after mass protests against him.

Sep 13, 2014

Iraq PM says will protect civilians after U.S.-Iraq air strikes against IS

BAGHDAD/CAIRO (Reuters) – Iraq’s Shi’ite Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Saturday that he had ordered his air force to halt strikes on civilians, following attacks by both Iraqi and U.S. jets in large areas of the country held by Islamic State fighters.

The announcement, which comes as the United States tries to build regional support for deeper military action against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, may be aimed at winning Sunni Muslim support for Abadi’s new Shi’ite-led government as it battles the group which controls one third of Iraqi territory.

Sep 13, 2014

Egypt says global action needed to counter Islamic State

CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt’s foreign minister said on Saturday ties existed between Islamic State, the group holding large parts of Iraq and Syria, and other militants in the region and that global action was needed to counter the threat.

Sameh Shukri, speaking at a Cairo news conference with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, said regional militant groups shared the same ideology and must be dealt with.

    • About Jason

      "As Southeast Asia Bureau Chief, Jason Szep manages text, pictures and television news operations across 10 countries for Reuters. He has been a Reuters correspondent, bureau chief and editor since 1990 and won the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi award in 2007. He is a Boston native and has had postings with Reuters in Toronto, Sydney, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo, Boston and Bangkok. His assignments have ranged from Kabul and Islamabad to the U.S. presidential campaign trail during the 2008 election."
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