France pushes U.N. to support fight against Islamic State

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 19, 2015 2:29 PM

By Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - France wants the United Nations Security Council to push all able states to join the fight against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq after the militants claimed responsibility for downing a Russian plane over Egypt and attacks in Paris, Lebanon, Turkey, and Tunisia.

France circulated a draft resolution to the 15-member council on Thursday that calls on countries "to redouble and coordinate their efforts to prevent and suppress terrorist acts committed specifically" by the group, which is also known as ISIS and ISIL.

The action rivals a Russian bid for U.N. approval of international military action against the militant group. On Wednesday, Russia submitted an edited draft of a text initially circulated to the council on Sept. 30.

That draft urged countries to coordinate military activities with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government and has been dismissed by veto-power Britain and other members.

Diplomats said the French draft was modeled on a resolution adopted after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin described the French text as a "good draft" and suggested on Thursday that the two proposals could be adopted separately.

"If you think back to the events after 9/11, first there was a short draft and then a couple of weeks later there was a more comprehensive draft, so it may well be we are going to go down that route," he told reporters.

British U.N. Ambassador Matthew Rycroft, president of the council for November, said on Thursday the shorter French draft focused on areas of the fight against Islamic State on which the Security Council could agree.

"The Russian draft ... does still talk about issues that do divide the Security Council so I don't see that having much prospect," he said. "It seeks to legitimize the authority of Assad."

Russia, which views Syria as its closest Middle East ally, has been at odds with Western powers over the future of Assad.

French U.N. Ambassador Francois Delattre said he hoped for a swift adoption of the French text, which had been put "in blue," meaning it could be put to a vote as soon as 24 hours later.

The French draft, seen by Reuters, "calls upon member states that have the capacity to do so to take all necessary measures ... on the territory under the control of ISIL ... in Syria and Iraq."

It also urges Member States to intensify efforts to stem the flow of foreigners looking to fight with Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and to prevent and suppress financing of terrorism.

A U.S.-led coalition has been bombing Islamic State in Iraq and Syria for more than a year, while Russia began air strikes in Syria in September.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Grant McCool, Toni Reinhold)