US and Arab governments look to combat Islamic extremism

A Syrian refugee camp in Mafraq, Jordan.AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon

As the battle against the Islamic State continues in Iraq, the US is reportedly considering further action against Islamist militants in Syria, while Egypt and the United Aarab Emirates have allegedly launched air strikes against Libyan insurgents.

The US military undertook "limited" air strikes in the Sinjar region earlier this month to secure Kurdistan, the semi-autonomous region in northern Iraq, an area of key interest for the US.

President Barack Obama has repeatedly stressed that there will be no active combat on the ground, saying: "I will not allow the United States to be dragged into another war in Iraq."

However, the US is now reportedly preparing further military options in neighbouring Syria, where the Islamic State is continuing to make gains. Fighters captured an open air base on Sunday near Raqqa, described as "the most significant government military" facility in the area.

"The base was the Syrian army's last foothold in an area otherwise controlled by the self-declared jihadist Islamic State group," Reuters reports.

A spokesman for Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, confirmed on Monday that "options to address ISIS both in Ira and Syria with a variety of military tools including airstrikes" were being prepared by US military officials.

"The bottom line is that our forces are well postured to partner with regional allies against ISIS," he said, though he also insisted that "much more than military action" is needed to defeat the Islamic State.

According to Reuters, officials have indicated that surveillance flights are to take place over Syria, but though airstrikes have been "prepared", military action is not likely to take place in the immediate future.

Obama was in discussion yesterday with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, following the launch of airstrikes against Islamic militias in Libya, reportedly carried out by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from Egyptian bases.

The New York Times reports that the airstrikes took place without first informing the US – highlighting continued tension between Cairo and Washington.

According to the BBC, Egypt has denied involvement, and the UAE has not yet commented.

The airstrikes signal Arab governments' continued action against the Muslim Brotherhood who are attempting to take over control in Libya.

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