All 26 members of anti-Daesh coalition to meet, US says
The U.S. will convene the first meeting of defense ministers from all members of the anti-Daesh coalition within three weeks, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Wednesday.

Following a meeting with the defense ministers of Australia, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Britain in Paris, Carter said a meeting in Brussels would see more participation by Arab and Asian nations.

The U.S. is "very much looking to countries in the Gulf,” he told a news conference with French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian. The meeting will seek military and nonmilitary cooperation.

Carter said there was broad agreement on a coordinated plan to fight Daesh over the coming year and take back key cities in Iraq and Syria.

Le Drian said Daesh’s retreat meant keeping up the pressure on the militants and "increase our collective forces with a coherent military strategy”.

He added: "The fight is beginning to bear fruit... Over the past few weeks we’ve seen something resembling a backslide. We have to step up our efforts on all fronts.”

The cities of Raqqa and Mosul are major targets for the coalition. They serve as Daesh’s main centers in Syria and Iraq, respectively, and the coalition will aid local forces on the ground as they prepare assaults in the coming months.

"Raqqa and Mosul must be won back,” Le Drian said. The minister added that French jets had targeted Daesh command and transmission centers in Mosul since Sunday. The U.S. led-coalition has struck 47 times in Mosul this week, according to the coalition’s Twitter feed.

While recognizing Russia as a "major player” in Syria, Carter said it was on the "wrong track”.

Le Drian said: "We want it to concentrate its efforts against Daesh and not against opposition groups.”

Last Modified: 2016-01-21 11:35:39
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