Obama anti-jihadist plan 'strong message of support': Iraq FM

AFP , Saturday 6 Sep 2014

US President Barack Obama's plan for an international anti-jihadist coalition is a "strong message of support" for Baghdad and its fight against militants, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said Saturday.

"We welcome that, and we have repeatedly called on our international partners for help and support because this threat is a very deadly threat... not only to the people of Iraq or the region, but to Europe, to America, to NATO," Zebari told AFP.

"This is basically our fight... but we need the support -- our capacity is limited, and we need the support to enhance our capacity," he said.

"Nobody's thinking of any ground troops at this stage -- they are calling for air support, for tactical support, for arming the forces on the ground, like the (Kurdish) peshmerga, the Iraqi security forces, and also to provide... intelligence, reconnaissance," he added.

Obama outlined plans at a NATO summit on Friday for a broad coalition to defeat the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group, which led an offensive that overran chunks of five Iraqi provinces in June, and also holds significant territory in neighbouring Syria.

The initial militant drive swept Iraqi security forces aside, but the federal government won its first major victories of the conflict in recent days, breaking a months-long siege of one town and retaking other territory from the militants.

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