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U.S. Announces Coalition To Fight Against The Islamic State

The United States says it has formed a coalition of 10 countries to help in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq.

The group consists of the United States plus Britain, France, Germany, Canada, Australia, Turkey, Italy, Poland and Denmark.

The New York Times reports that the coalition will act in two ways: It will support allies fighting against the Islamic State on the ground, and it will continue attacking the Sunni militants using air strikes.

Reuters reports that in a meeting on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Wales, Secretary of State John Kerry said the strategy for the coalition was to contain, not destroy, the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

"We need to attack them in ways that prevent them from taking over territory, to bolster the Iraqi security forces and others in the region who are prepared to take them on, without committing troops of our own," Kerry said, according to Reuters. "Obviously I think that's a red line for everybody here: no boots on the ground."

The Times adds:

"American officials are hoping to expand the coalition against ISIS to include as many countries as possible, particularly in the region. Obama administration officials said privately that in addition to the countries that attended the meeting Friday morning, the United States was hoping to get quiet intelligence help about the Sunni militants from Jordan, whose leader, King Abdullah, was participating in the NATO summit.

"United States officials said they also expected Saudi Arabia to provide money and aid for moderate Syrian rebel groups. Yousef al-Otaiba, the ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the United States, said in a statement earlier this week that the United Arab Emirates stood ready to join the fight against ISIS. 'No one has more at stake than the U.A.E. and other moderate countries in the region that have rejected the regressive Islamist creed and embraced a different, forward-looking path,' the ambassador said. The Emiratis, he said, are 'ready to join the international community in an urgent, coordinated and sustained effort to confront a threat that will, if unchecked, have global ramifications for decades to come.' "

The Islamic State, if you remember, caught the international community's attention when it began a brazen and lightning-fast attack on Iraq over the summer. Since then, the group has overtaken several Iraqi cities and has taken responsibility for the beheading of two American journalists.

As the Islamic State moved further into Iraq, the United States began an air campaign against the group.

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Eyder Peralta
Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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