Syria's U.N. envoy says told of airstrikes by Samantha Power

Reuters , Tuesday 23 Sep 2014

Syria's U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari told Reuters on Tuesday that he was personally informed by U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power of imminent U.S. and Arab airstrikes against Islamic State targets on Syrian territory hours ahead of time.

Ja'afari said Power told him on Monday morning that the military action would be carried out. He added that "we're in close coordination with Iraq."

The U.S. mission confirmed that Power had informed Ja'afari.

The United States and Arab allies bombed Syria for the first time on Tuesday, killing scores of Islamic State fighters and members of a separate al Qaeda-linked group, opening a new front against militants by joining Syria's three-year-old civil war.

Asked if he thought a meeting of the U.N. Security Council was needed to discuss the airstrikes, Ja'afari said "all the ministers and the leaders and the dignitaries will be here very soon" for the U.N. General Assembly, which starts on Wednesday, and it will be a key topic of discussion.

U.S. President Barack Obama is due to chair a meeting of the 15-member U.N. Security Council on Wednesday on foreign extremist fighters.

Diplomats said the council was expected to adopt a resolution that aims to "prevent and suppress the recruiting, organizing, transporting or equipping" of people to another country to perpetrate, plan or participate in attacks.

The resolution generally targets foreign extremist fighters traveling to conflicts anywhere in world and has been prompted by the rise of Islamic State and Nusra Front in Syria and Iraq.

Iraq notified the Security Council in a letter on Saturday of its request for the United States to lead global efforts to strike Islamic State strongholds because, it said, a safe haven for the militants in Syria had made its border "impossible to defend."

Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari wrote that the safe haven for the radical Sunni Muslim group outside Iraq's borders was "a direct threat to the security of our people and territory." He did not name Syria.

"The presence of this safe haven has made our borders impossible to defend and exposed our citizens to the threat of terrorist attacks," Jaafari wrote in the letter obtained by Reuters, adding that U.S.-led action had the "express consent" of Iraq. 

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