UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council urged the international community Friday to expand support for the Iraqi government as it fights the Islamic State group and its allies, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said there is a role for nearly every country in the world — including Iran.
The presidential statement approved by all 15 council members at a meeting chaired by Kerry expressed "deep outrage" at the killing, kidnapping, rape and torture carried out by the Islamic State group. Some of those acts might constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity, it said.
Kerry convened the council to show support for the new Iraqi government in its efforts to combat the Islamic State group and to mobilize the world against the extremists who control a large swath of Syria and north and western Iraq. He did so a day after Congress approved the Obama administration's plan authorizing the U.S. military to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels fighting Islamic State militants.
"If left unchecked, these terrorists certainly would pose a growing threat beyond the region because they have already promised it," Kerry told the meeting that brought more than two dozen ministers to U.N. headquarters.
Nikolay Mladenov, the U.N.'s top envoy in Iraq, said the U.N. estimates that since January there have been at least 25,000 civilian casualties including at least 8,500 killed and more than 16,000 wounded. Since the beginning of June, when Islamic State fighters swept across the border into Iraq, he said at least 4,700 civilians have been killed and some 6,500 wounded, he said.
Minority communities including Christians, Yezidis, Shabaks, Turkmen and others have been targeted by Islamic State fighters deliberately cleansing territories under their control, perpetrating crimes that may also amount to genocide, Mladenov said.
"We are facing throat-cutters," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said. "They rape, crucify and decapitate. They use cruelty as a means of propaganda. Their aim is to erase borders and to eradicate the rule of law and civil society."
Fabius said the Islamic State fighters represent a challenge to the international order and warned that in the future their targets will extend way beyond Syria and Iraq.
A few hours before the gathering at U.N. headquarters, French fighter jets struck militant Islamic State group targets in Iraq, becoming the first country to publicly add military muscle to United States airstrikes against the group.
Kerry said the group has no vision beyond the slaughter of those who stand in its way.
"These terrorists are actually unique in their brutality," Kerry said. "They execute captured prisoners, kneeling them down and tying their hands behind their back, bullet through their head. They kill children. They enslave, rape and force women into marriage."
Iraq's new, foreign minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, called for military, economic and financial assistance to help his country fight Islamic State group.
"This major threat should be removed not only from Iraq but from any other country," al-Jaafari said.
Kerry said leaders aren't talking about whether they should support the campaign against the Islamic State group, "they're asking how."
Syria's U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari, who did not address the council, told reporters that his government is coordinating with the Iraqi government in fighting the terrorist group.
Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi told the council that the international coalition must fight the Islamic State group "wherever it is present, be it in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon or elsewhere."
Doing otherwise, he said, "will be a recipe for defeat."
Associated Press Writers Trenton Daniel and Maria Sanminiatelli contributed to this report from the United Nations.