US officials on Sunday revealed that several Arab countries have offered to join the United States in air strikes against Islamic State targets, indicating a possible widening of the air campaign against militants who have seized parts of Iraq and Syria.
However, the officials declined to say which countries had offered help. The development follows a video released on Saturday night that showed the brutal murder of British aid worker David Haines at the hands of Islamic State extremists. The officials said that they were under consideration as the United States begins to identify country roles in its emerging coalition against jihadists who have declared a caliphate or Islamic state ruled under Sharia law in the heart of the Middle East.
A senior U.S. State Department official told to reporters that the countries who offered their fighter jets did not limit their involvement to Iraq. “I don’t want to leave you with the impression that these Arab members haven’t offered to do air strikes because several of them have,” he added. "Some have indicated for quite a while a willingness to do them elsewhere," said official, "We have to sort through all of that because you can’t just go and bomb something.” France has been the only country so far to publicly offer to join U.S. air strikes on Islamic State targets, although limiting these to Iraq.
All strikes would have to be approved by the newly assembled government in Iraq and US military leaders. U.S. officials said that though President Barack Obama has authorized the use of US fighter jets in a plan announced on Wednesday to attack both sides of the Syrian-Iraqi frontier and defeat Islamic State Sunni fighters, no decision has been made yet on whether to carry them out.
On Thursday, Kerry won backing for a ‘coordinated military campaign’ from 10 Arab countries – Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and six Gulf States including rich rivals Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond during a conference on Iraq in Paris on Monday. The conference brings Iraqi authorities together with 15 to 20 international players. It comes ahead of a U.N. Security Council ministerial meeting on September 19 and a heads of state meeting at the U.N. General Assembly later this month.[category-World] [Barack Obama, Arab Nations, US Air Strike, John Kerry, Iraq, Islamic State Targets]