US signals shift in Syria-Iraq campaign against Islamic State

The US has indicated a shift in its campaign against Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq and Syria, including the use of direct ground raids.
Defence Secretary Ash Carter said there would also be more air strikes against “high-value targets”.
Observers say his comments reflect acknowledgment of the lack of progress in defeating the militant group.

A US-led coalition began air strikes against IS positions in Iraq and Syria last year. President Barack Obama said the objective was to “degrade and ultimately destroy” IS.
Although President Obama has not committed ground forces to Iraq, the US has about 3,500 troops in the country who have been helping to train Iraqi forces and also have a limited combat role.

Obama 300x234 US signals shift in Syria Iraq campaign against Islamic State Romano Pisciotti
Obama

Russia started its own air strikes in Syria at the end of last month, saying it wants to help President Bashar al-Assad defeat IS and other extremists.

But Washington has strongly criticised the Russian campaign, arguing that it has been focused on rebel opposition fighters and that it will only fuel more extremism.

Putin US signals shift in Syria Iraq campaign against Islamic State Romano Pisciotti
Putin

Pope Francis has been photographed in the Vatican holding a sign calling for Argentine-UK talks about the Falkland Islands, called Malvinas in Argentina.

The pontiff is from Argentina. He received the sign from Gustavo Hoyo, leader of a campaign for dialogue on the islands, during a papal audience.

Pope with the message 300x169 Pope Francis has been photographed in the Vatican holding a sign calling for Argentine UK talks about the Falkland Islands, called Malvinas in Argentina. Romano Pisciotti
Pope with the message

 

A senior Vatican official told the BBC that Pope Francis “did not know and did not realise what was written on it”.
In 1982 UK forces defeated Argentine troops, who had invaded the Falklands.
The war left Argentina and the UK still disputing the islands’ sovereignty – but a UN resolution has called for dialogue to reach a settlement.
The sign held by the Pope on Wednesday said: “It’s time for dialogue between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the Falkland Islands.” *

*(Malvinas)

 

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