Obama Calls on UN and Allies to Join Fight Against Islamic State

President Barack Obama speaks at the UN Security Council summit on foreign terrorist, Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014, at United Nations headquarters. At left is UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Barack Obama speaks at the UN Security Council summit on foreign terrorist, Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014, at United Nations headquarters. At left is UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

President Obama addressed the United Nations General Assembly Wednesday and called for a worldwide effort to combat the Islamic State, whose fighters launched attacks in Syria and Iraq two days after being hit with airstrikes in Syria.

"The only language understood by killers like this is the language of force," Obama said. "So the United States of America will work with a broad coalition to dismantle this network of death."

"Today, I ask the world to join in this effort. Those who have joined ISIL should leave the battlefield while they can," Obama said, using another acronym for the terror group.

As Obama spoke, Kurdish refugees fleeing IS attacks on the town of Kobane in northern Syria continued to stream across the Turkish border. A Kurdish military commander told Reuters that IS had bolstered its forces in northern Syria following the airstrikes Monday night, sending additional troops and tanks to Kobane.

In Iraq, hundreds of Iraqi soldiers reportedly were missing following IS attacks on the town of Saqlawiyah.

At the Pentagon Wednesday, officials said the effects of Monday's attacks in Syria were still being assessed. The U.S. was joined by five Arab states in the attacks.

"We've seen no indications of civilian casualties" from the airstrikes that hit IS targets in northeastern Syria and along the Syria-Iraq border, said Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman.

Warren suggested that videos emerging on social media purporting to show civilian casualties may have been faked.

The Pentagon officials again stressed that leaders of IS and Khorasan had not been specifically targeted in the airstrikes. However, Warren said "If there were leaders in those command and control facilities, we're happy to see them no longer leading."

White House National Security Adviser Susan Rice told NBC News Wednesday that the White House was aware of social media reports that Khorasan leader Muhsin al-Fadhli had been killed in the airstrikes.

"We can't confirm that at this stage," Rice said. "But we've seen reports on social media to that effect. We will continue to look for signs as to whether or not that's, in fact, the case."

Warren said that as the air campaign progresses in the coming weeks "there will be a mix of what you've seen in the last several weeks" in airstrikes that have ranged from focused attacks on "targets of opportunity" and more wide-ranging strikes such as the attacks on Monday night.

On Wednesday, U.S. Central Command said that U.S. and coalition aircraft had hit an additional five targets in Iraq and Syria. In one of the strikes, eight IS vehicles were damaged northwest of the Syrian town of Al Qaim, CentCom reported.

In his address to the General Assembly, and in a later session with the UN Security Council, Obama stressed the theme of "coming together to reject the cancer of violent extremism."

However, Obama's message appeared not to resonate with even the closest U.S. allies in the region when it came to their views on the main problems of the Mideast.

In his General Assembly address, Obama said that "the situation in Iraq and Syria and Libya should cure anybody of the illusion that the Arab-Israeli conflict is the main source of problems in the region."

About an hour later, Jordan's King Abdullah II gave his address. He noted that Jordanian warplanes had joined the airstrikes in Syria and also noted that Jordan was struggling with the influx of 1.4 million refugees from Syria's civil war.

However, Abdullah said that the "central conflict" in the region was "the denial of Palestinian rights" by Israel.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at richard.sisk@monster.com

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