Coalition special forces should hit IS leaders – ex-US general

Published: Sunday 22nd November 2015 by The News Editor

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France should use coalition special forces to attack Islamic State (IS) leaders if it wants to step up its military campaign against the terror group following the Paris attacks, a former US special envoy has said.

“There is substantial capacity in the context of our special operations that can be brought to bear,” r etired general John Allen, former envoy to the US-led global coalition to defeat IS, group, said in Nova Scotia ahead of Canada’s annual Halifax International Security Forum.

French president Francois Hollande has vowed to increase the military response in the wake of the Paris attacks that killed 130 people.

Gen Allen, who left his post last week, has so far been reluctant to publicly discuss advice he has offered to the Obama administration.

Recommending a greater use of coalition special operations forces, he noted an attack last year in which special forces killed IS’ chief financial officer, took prisoners and retrieved a large amount of data from computers. He said they attacked other targets within hours of exploiting that information.

“You get information that leads to more targets, which generate more operations. That up-tempo of special operations can become so great that you can gum up their capacity to make decisions and create some great demoralisation within the system of command,” Gen Allen said.

He said he would look within the coalition for a combined joint special operations force that could carry out direct attacks against IS leaders.

The Pentagon has been pressing European and Arab allies to provide more troops and support for the war against IS, hoping that the horror of the Paris attacks – and the fear more are coming – will compel them to get more deeply involved.

The Obama administration announced last month that up to 50 special operations troops would be sent to help Kurdish and Arab forces in northern Syria.

Gen Allen said the coalition had to attack IS militarily, financially and online. To ultimately defeat it, the West had to do a better job of contesting the message of hate and recruitment, he said.

“Daesh will not be dead as an entity until we’ve killed it in the information sphere, until we’ve killed the idea,” he said, using the Arabic acronym for the group. “We must have a superior message to theirs.”

In France, around 10,000 people marched in Toulouse in a rally “for civil rights and peace”.

The largely-silent event was held to commemorate the victims of last week’s attacks in Paris that killed 130 people.

Participants held banners condemning the “barbarism” of last Friday’s attacks and warning against holding all Muslims responsible for the actions of a handful of extremists.

Published: Sunday 22nd November 2015 by The News Editor

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