Anti-IS strategy discussed by foreign ministers

  • 21/01/2016
Anti-IS strategy discussed by foreign ministers

By Karlis Salna

Defence Minister Marise Payne says coalition nations fighting Islamic State must capitalise on recent battlefield gains by ensuring stability in areas won back from militants.

Defence chiefs from coalition partners including the US, Australia, Britain and France have pledged at a meeting in Paris to boost coordinated efforts in combating Islamic State.

The talks focused on the military strategy of the US-led coalition in Iraq and Syria, and ensuring partners "coordinate and collaborate on that strategy", Senator Payne said in Paris.

"We know that as we make gains in places such as Ramadi we must ensure that stabilisation continues after those gains and that we support local communities in re-establishing themselves and engaging in their own country."

Iraqi forces, backed by coalition air support, were able to wrest back control of the western Iraqi city last month.

In Washington earlier this week, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the militant group's use of technology and social media was "very sophisticated and agile" and required a more rapid response.

Senator Payne said the talks in Paris pursued the issue further.

"I think this is an international question, not just a question for Australia, and very much has been part of our discussion today that this is a multi-faceted activity," she said.

"It's more than just a military campaign. It requires engagement in the modern battle platform, if you like, and that includes social media."

In a joint statement, the defence ministers re-committed to working with the US-led coalition "to accelerate and intensify the campaign" against Islamic State.

"We agreed that we all must do more," US Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter told reporters after the talks, which involved the "core" military coalition members, including Germany, Italy, Australia and The Netherlands.

Australia has 780 defence personnel deployed in the Middle East providing training and air support and is the second largest contributor in Iraq after the US.

French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Islamic State was in retreat but that "it's now time to increase our collective effort by putting in place a coherent military strategy".

A meeting of defence ministers from all 26 military members of the international coalition against Islamic State will be held next month.