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U.S. Says Allies In Middle East And Elsewhere Want To Help Fight ISIS

On a weekend that saw extremist group the Islamic State release a video showing the murder of a Western hostage, support for a coalition to fight the group is building. Several Arab states are reportedly willing to participate in strikes on the group, and Australia has offered to send hundreds of troops to help.

Secretary of State John Kerry has been visiting countries in the Middle East to build support for President Obama's plan to fight the group, ahead of a conference about the crisis that'll begin in Paris Monday.

"We have countries in this region, countries outside of this region in addition to the United States," Kerry said today on CBS' Face the Nation, "all of whom are prepared to engage in military assistance — in actual strikes, if that is what it requires."

Kerry spoke a day after the extremist group that's based in Syria and Iraq released a video of the killing of British aid worker David Haines. The act was met with international outrage and condemnation, with British Prime Minister David Cameron today promising to hunt down those responsible.

Comparing the situation to the U.S. fight against Al Qaida, Kerry said, "In the same context, if you want to use it, yes, we're at war with ISIL in that sense." But he also said that there is no plan to have combat troops on the ground, mobilizing thousands of soldiers.

Kerry and other officials who have been cited in reports about broadening support for the U.S. strategy have not named names. So far, Australia has come forward with the most specific offer of help, saying it will send 600 troops to the Middle East, with some of them possibly getting en route next week.

From Sydney, Stuart Cohen reports for NPR:

"Australia says the commitment follows a formal request from Washington to help fight ISIS. Australia will send 200 soldiers to a staging point in the United Arab Emirates, as well as another 400 air force personnel and several combat and support aircraft. Prime Minister Tony Abbott says it's more than just a military action.

" 'This is essentially a humanitarian operation to protect millions of people in Iraq from the murderous of the ISIL movement,' Abbott said.

"But some senior opposition members in parliament say the move is similar to Australia's unpopular involvement with the war in Iraq. On Friday, the government warned a terrorist attack is now highly likely due to the number of Australians involved with the Islamic State movement."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.