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US expects not to go alone in Syria air strikes: Ambassador

AFP , Sunday 21 Sep 2014
Samantha Power in Washington July 17, 2013. (Photo:Reuters)
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US Ambassador Samatha Power predicted Sunday that the United States would not be alone if it launches air strikes against Islamic State jihadists in Syria, although she said no decisions have been reached yet.

The US envoy to the United Nations' comments came as the United States puts together an international coalition to fight the IS group, which has seized large areas of Syria and Iraq in a bloody drive that has included beheadings of western hostages.

France has joined the United States in air strikes against the group in Iraq, but the IS strongholds in Syria have so far been spared.

"The president has said we're not going to allow ISIL to have safe haven in Syria, but no decisions have been made in terms of how we're going to proceed in that," she said on CBS's Face the Nation, using an alternate acroynym for the group.

In a separate interview on ABC's "This Week," Power told host George Stephanopoulos: "I will make you a prediction, George, which is that we will not do the airstrikes alone if the president decides to do the airstrikes."

The Syrian piece of the US-led campaign is unusually complicated because the country is immersed in a civil war that pits both IS and more moderate, US-backed rebels against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

US Secretary of State John Kerry this week suggested that even Iran, which backs Assad, has a role to play against the IS group.

"I think what the secretary meant was that Iran has made clear that it too views ISIL as an enemy and as a threat," Power told CBS.

"And so in that respect, all of our operations are oriented around the objective of degrading and destroying ISIL, and we're waiting to hear whether Iran thinks it has a constructive role to play."

She depicted Assad, however, as an "unreliable partner for us," accusing him of not going after the IS group with his own forces and buying oil from it when it has taken over oil fields.

"And we would urge Iran actually to use its leverage over that regime in order to change its tactics and bring about the political solution we need to really get at one of the root causes of this crisis," she said on the ABC show.

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