US-Arab coalition forces renew Syria strikes as UN debates terror response

Security Council passes legally binding resolution to tackle surge of foreign terrorist fighters.

By
September 24, 2014 22:03
3 minute read.

United Nations Live

United Nations Live

NEW YORK -- The United States and Arab coalition forces renewed their assault on Islamic State in Syria on Wednesday night, delivering on their promise to wage a sustained air campaign against the extremist group.

The second night of strikes targeted oil infrastructure controlled by Islamic State, US officials said. The Pentagon confirmed that strikes were continuing.

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"I can confirm that US military and Arab partner forces are undertaking additional strikes today against ISIL [Islamic State] terrorists in Syria," Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said, declining to provide further details until doing so is "operationally appropriate."

Two months into a US campaign of air strikes against Islamic State targets in northern Iraq, the governments of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates joined the military effort over eastern Syria, where the group holds court, in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Earlier in the day, a single US strike destroyed eight Islamic State vehicles in northern Syria, near the Turkish border, over which roughly 150,000 Syrian Kurds have fled in less than two weeks.

Strikes also targeted Islamic State assets west of Baghdad.

The strikes took place as US President Barack Obama chaired a special session of the United Nations Security Council in New York on global efforts to counter extremist groups, including Islamic State.

"What brings us together today, what is new is the unprecedented flow of fighters in recent years to and from conflict zones," Obama said. "Our intelligence agencies estimate that more than 15,000 foreign fighters from more than 80 nations have traveled to Syria in recent years.  Many have joined terrorist organizations such as al Qaeda’s affiliate, the Nusrah Front, and ISIL."

The Security Council passed a legally binding resolution Wednesday to address and counter the recent surge of foreign terrorist fighters to organizations like Islamic State and the Al-Nusrah Front.

Resolution 2178 mandates that countries require airline passengers to provide enough identifying information ahead of travel to be checked against the UN’s list of terrorist organizations.

Additionally the resolution charged the 15 member states with working to limit foreign terrorist fighters access to funds, combat training, and arms, and called on countries to share information and cooperate to limit the mobility of these fighters.

Obama warned that this was not a symbolic gesture. The resolution is binding by law and each country must redouble its efforts to address the threat within their own borders.

“Resolutions alone will not be enough,” Obama said. “Promises on paper cannot keep us safe. Lofty rhetoric and good intentions will not stop a single terrorist attack.”

In 180 days from its passage, the UN is required to deliver a status report on the threat of foreign terrorist fighters, and an actionable list of possible responses countries can take.

The resolution defines a foreign terrorist fighter as individuals who travel to states other than their home residence to receive or provide terrorist training including any participation in armed conflict.

“Preventing these individuals from reaching Syria and then slipping back across our borders is a critical element of our strategy to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL,” President Obama said.

The president called on individuals around the world to be attentive to signs that a friend or relative or community member might be feeling the impulse to pick up and head to a foreign combat zone.

​Addressing the boon that foreign terrorist fighters provide to terrorist groups like Islamic State, King Abdullah II of Jordan ​called for transparency from all countries about the presence of terrorist factions within their borders, for a global commitment to the principles of the Security Council resolution and for immediate action​.

​"​The more resource-rich territory they hold, the more self-perpetuating they become​," he said. ​"Time is of the essence."


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