US Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday said any Iranian military action against Islamic State (IS) fighters in Iraq is “positive” after the Pentagon said Tehran had carried out air strikes against the group, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Kerry, hosting a meeting of the US-led coalition against the IS in Brussels, said air strikes were finally stopping the advance of the group across Iraq and Syria, but said it could take years to defeat it.
Top US military officer General David Rodriguez said that the IS had set up training camps in eastern Libya, although he said they were not an immediate target as activity there was “very small.”
Kerry told the Brussels meeting of officials from 60 coalition states that a campaign of about 1,000 strikes had made a “significant” impact on the IS group, which declared a caliphate across parts of Syria and Iraq in June.
“Our commitment will most likely be measured in years,” he told the meeting at NATO headquarters, adding that the partners would “engage in this campaign for as long as it takes to prevail.”
However, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad — who is backed by Iran — criticized the Western and Arab air strikes for having no effect.
Kerry denied there was any military coordination with Iran after the Pentagon said that Iranian F-4 Phantom jets — acquired from the US before the 1979 Islamic revolution — had deployed against IS fighters in Iraq’s eastern Diyala Province.
However, he suggested that there was an understanding between mainly Shiite Iran and the US to tackle a common threat.
“If Iran is taking on [IS fighters] in some particular place ... and it has an impact, then it’s going to be net effect [that] is positive,” Kerry told a press conference after the meeting.
US defense officials said the Iranian air raids were part of a pattern in which Iranian or US military advisers have carved out separate spheres in Iraq.
“There’s a tacit understanding we’re not going to operate in the same space. And they’re not targeting American forces,” said a defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The coalition issued a statement saying that the militant group’s “advance across Syria and into Iraq is being halted,” and that Iraqi and Kurdish forces are reclaiming territory.
However, al-Assad — whose main backers are Tehran and Moscow — hit out at the Western powers that until months ago had been focused on his removal from power in a civil war that has killed about 200,000 people.
“You can’t end terrorism with aerial strikes. Troops on the ground that know the land and can react are essential,” he said in an interview in this week’s edition of French magazine Paris Match. “That is why there haven’t been any tangible results in the two months of strikes led by the coalition. They would of course have helped had they been serious and efficient.”
An Australian university student who has never visited China and has only a modest social media following would seem an unlikely target for the Chinese government. However, when a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman personally denounced Drew Pavlou at a news conference, it was just the next phase in an extraordinary campaign against the 21-year-old that has fueled concerns over China’s targeting of critics overseas. Pavlou first placed himself in the superpower’s sights when in July last year he organized a small sit-in at the University of Queensland, where he studies, to protest against various Chinese government policies. Since then, the Global
‘ASKED TO MOVE OUT’: Indonesian coast guard personnel argued with a Chinese vessel over territorial claims after it entered the country’s exclusive economic zone An Indonesian patrol ship confronted a Chinese coast guard vessel that spent almost three days in waters where Indonesia claims economic rights and that are near the southernmost part of China’s disputed claims to the South China Sea. The Indonesian Maritime Security Agency on Friday night detected Chinese ship 5204 entering Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in what Indonesia calls the North Natuna Sea. The agency sent a patrol ship that closed within 1km of the Chinese coast guard vessel and they communicated to affirm their position and their nation’s claims to the area, Indonesian Maritime Security Agency head Aan Kurnia said. “We
BEFORE WINTER COMES: Snow cuts off roads into Ladakh for four months or more each year, so the crunch is on to get food, tents and high-altitude equipment to Leh From deploying mules to large transport aircraft, the Indian military has activated its entire logistics network to transport supplies to thousands of troops for a harsh winter along a bitterly disputed Himalayan border with China. In the past few months, one of India’s biggest military logistics exercises in years has brought vast quantities of ammunition, equipment, fuel, winter supplies and food into Ladakh, a region bordering Tibet that India administers as a union territory, officials said. The move was triggered by a border standoff with China in the snow deserts of Ladakh that began in May and escalated in June into hand-to-hand
Since her personal telephone number was posted online, Hong Kong democracy advocate and Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions chairperson Carol Ng has received menacing calls from strangers and been bombarded with messages calling her a “cockroach.” She is not alone. A sophisticated and shady Web site called HK Leaks has ramped up its “doxxing” — where people’s personal details are published online — of Hong Kong democracy advocates, targeting those it says have broken Hong Kong’s National Security Law. Promoted by groups linked to the Chinese Chinese Communist Party and hosted on Russia-based servers, HK Leaks has become the most prominent “doxxing”