Obama vows to redouble efforts against IS ahead of G20 summit

Published: Sunday 15th November 2015 by The News Editor

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US president Barack Obama has pledged to redouble US efforts to eliminate the Islamic State group (IS) and end the Syrian civil war which has fuelled its rise in the wake of the Paris terror attacks.

Mr Obama denounced the extremist group’s horrifying terror spree in Paris as “an attack on the civilised world”.

Opening two days of talks with world leaders in the G20 group of nations in Turkey, Mr Obama pledged solidarity with France in the effort to hunt down the perpetrators and bring them to justice.

He said “the skies have been darkened” by the Paris attacks, but offered no details about what the US or its coalition partners might do to step up its assault against IS.

After meeting Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Mr Obama said: “The killing of innocent people, based on a twisted ideology, is an attack not just on France, not just on Turkey, but it’s an attack on the civilised world.”

In addition to the Paris attacks, IS has been blamed for two bombings in Turkey this year that killed roughly 130 people.

The IS threat and Syria’s civil war overshadowed the Turkish seaside city of Antalya as Mr Obama and other leaders arrived for the G20 summit.

Although the overlapping crises were already on the line-up for the two days of talks, they were thrust to the forefront by elaborately coordinated attacks that killed 129 in the French capital just two days earlier.

On Sunday, five Turkish police officers were injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up during a police raid on a suspected IS hideout near the Syrian border. Turkish security forces also rounded up 20 suspected IS militants in and around Antalya in the run-up to the G20.

Although world leaders have offered sweeping condemnations of IS following the Paris attacks, they have yet to offer concrete proposals for how to escalate the fight or more effectively rein the group in. Asked by reporters whether he would consider additional action against IS following the Paris attacks, Mr Obama declined to make any indication.

Mr Obama’s meeting with Mr Erdogan came at the start of a nine-day trip to Turkey, the Philippines and Malaysia that has already been largely overshadowed by Friday’s attacks in Paris and the related issues of Syria’s civil war and the resulting migrant crisis.

Mr Obama said the US stands with Turkey and Europe in the effort to reduce the flow of migrants, and Mr Erdogan predicted a “strong message” on fighting terrorism would come out of the summit.

“This terror attack was not just against the French people, it was against the whole of humanity,” Mr Erdogan said.

The summit’s host, Mr Erdogan is fresh off his party’s impressive victory in Turkey’s recent elections, but his relations with Mr Obama have been strained over tactical disagreements about how to push Assad out of power in Syria.

The US, along with coalition partners, has been bombing IS in Iraq and Syria for more than a year with limited success. Mr Obama has been reluctant to get pulled deeper into the conflict and has ruled out a major US ground offensive, although he recently authorised sending special operations forces into Syria.

Russian president Vladimir Putin and Mr Obama, who are now lined up on opposing sides of Syria’s bloody civil war, planned no formal sit-downs while both were in Antalya – just a few hundred miles from Turkey’s border with Syria, but they are expected to cross paths on the sidelines of the summit.

“It’s only possible to deal with the terror threat and help millions of people who lost their homes by combining efforts of the entire global community,” Mr Putin said.

Published: Sunday 15th November 2015 by The News Editor

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