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Kerry urges 'coalition' to fight IS jihadists

DAMASCUS -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has called for a global coalition to combat the Islamic State jihadist group and their “genocidal agenda.”

His remarks came as Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah warned that the West would be the group's next target unless there was swift action to stem their advances through Iraq and Syria.

In Britain, meanwhile, authorities raised the terror alert level over fears of possible jihadist attacks.

And in Syria, clashes broke out between Philippine U.N. peacekeepers and another jihadist group, the al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front, which is also holding hostage dozens of Fijian U.N. peacekeepers.

Writing in the New York Times, a week before a NATO summit in Wales, Kerry urged “a united response led by the United States and the broadest possible coalition of nations.”

He said he and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel would meet European counterparts on the sidelines of the summit to enlist assistance, and then travel to the Middle East to build support “among the countries that are most directly threatened.”

US President Barack Obama has acknowledged that Washington has no strategy as yet to tackle the Islamic State, which has declared an Islamic “caliphate” in large swathes of territory under its control in Iraq and Syria.

But Kerry said in his op-ed Friday that the United States would be putting forward an action plan at a summit meeting of the U.N. Security Council in September, when Washington will hold the group's rotating presidency.

“What's needed to confront its nihilistic vision and genocidal agenda is a global coalition using political, humanitarian, economic, law enforcement and intelligence tools to support military force,” Kerry said.

'Fight terror with force'

The Islamic State (IS) has prompted widespread concern as it advances in both Syria and Iraq, killing hundreds of people, including in gruesome beheadings and mass executions.

The United States began carrying out air strikes against the group in Iraq earlier this month, but has yet to decide if it will expand that military action into Syria.

The government of embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said it is willing to cooperate on tackling jihadists, but that any military action on its soil must be coordinated.

That is a tough sell for Washington, which has long backed the rebels seeking Assad's overthrow and accuses his regime of rights violations including the use of chemical weapons.

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