U.N. Security Council blacklists ISIS militants
The United Nations Security Council took aim at Islamist militants in Iraq and Syria on Friday, blacklisting six people including the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) spokesman and threatening sanctions against those who finance, recruit or supply weapons to the insurgents.
The 15-member council unanimously adopted a resolution that aims to weaken ISIS and Al-Qaeda’s Syrian wing Nusra Front, Reuters reported.
ISIS has long been blacklisted by the Security Council, while Nusra Front was added earlier this year. Both groups are designated under the U.N. Al-Qaeda sanctions regime.
Friday’s resolution named six people who will be subject to an international travel ban, asset freeze and arms embargo, including Islamic State spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani, an Iraqi described by U.N. experts as one of the group’s “most influential emirs” and close to its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
The resolution falls under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which makes it legally binding for U.N. member states and gives the council authority to enforce decisions with economic sanctions or force. However, it does not mandate military force to tackle the insurgents.
EU agrees to arm the Kurds
Meeting in emergency session, the EU said it would also look at how to prevent the Islamic State, which has overrun some oilfields in Syria and Iraq, benefiting from oil sales.
Several European governments, including France, Britain, Germany, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands, have said they will send arms to the Kurds or are considering doing so.
Sweden and Austria were among those that will not, but the 28-nation bloc avoided a repetition of last year’s internal dispute over arming the Syrian rebels.
Also Friday, Canada is sending two military cargo planes to Iraq to help deliver weapons to Iraqi Kurds who are battling Islamic militants, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said.
Since July, ISIS militants have seized a swathe of northern Iraq including the city of Mosul, routing Shiite-led Iraqi forces and driving out waves of refugees from the minority Christian and Yazidi communities.
The group “massacred” some 80 members of Iraq’s Yazidi minority in a village in the country’s north, a Yazidi lawmaker and two Kurdish officials said on Friday.
“They arrived in vehicles and they started their killing this afternoon,” senior Kurdish official Hoshiyar Zebari told Reuters. “We believe it’s because of their creed: convert or be killed.”
A Yazidi lawmaker and another senior Kurdish official also said the killings had taken place and that the women of the village were kidnapped.
The ISIS advance also threatens Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region and host to a U.S. consulate and other facilities. President Barack Obama, while ruling out sending U.S. combat troops, has vowed to protect it.
‘No holiday when people are dying’
The unscheduled gathering of EU ministers comes after days of forceful demands by France, whose Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius criticized EU colleagues for remaining on holiday while besieged civilians were being killed in Iraq.
“When there are people dying … you have to come back from your holidays,” Fabius said earlier this week, after writing a letter to EU foreign affairs supremo Catherine Ashton demanding an extraordinary meeting of ministers.
Italy, which currently holds the EU’s rotating leadership and whose foreign minister Federica Mogherini is on the short-list to replace Ashton this year, also called for talks.
“We’re not talking about military intervention but providing support, even of a military sort, to the Kurdish government,” she said.
Defense matters are strictly the purview of member states and France and Britain have already announced they will ship weapons to Iraqi Kurds struggling to push back Islamic State fighters.
EU governments are also alarmed by ISIS’ ability to attract fighters from Europe who then return home to the West battle-hardened from jihad.
Earlier this week, the European Commission announced it would boost humanitarian aid to Iraq to 17 million euros ($22 million), but Humanitarian Affairs Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva, also a frontrunner to replace Ashton, said the real challenge in helping civilians was access, not funding.
Germany sends aid
On Friday, Germany’s armed forces on Friday began sending aid supplies to northern Iraq and the defense minister said Germany was looking into whether it would also deliver military equipment.
The first plane set off for Arbil carrying medicines, food and blankets and further aid flights were planned for the day.
“Of course this is just the beginning and we’re working hard on sending further aid if necessary and it’s becoming apparent that is the case,” Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen told reporters at Hohn airbase in northern Germany.
“We are also working on the question of whether equipment is needed,” she added, such as protective helmets and vests.
Von der Leyen said Iraqi troops were trained on and wanted weapons from the former Soviet Union. “Germany does not have such weapon systems and could also not deliver them,” she said.
But in an interview with German’s mass-selling daily Bild she said: “Generally, if a genocide can be prevented with German weapons, then we must help.”
On Thursday, U.S. jets and drones launched more air strikes in northern Iraq to destroy vehicles operated by ISIS fighters, the military said.
The latest operations came after Obama said the air campaign had achieved its initial objectives but warned of more strikes to protect U.S. personnel in the Kurdish city of Arbil.
U.S. Central Command said drones and fighter jets took part in the latest strikes, the first at 1505 GMT to take out two armed trucks that had been firing on Kurdish forces.
The second strike took place just over 30 minutes later, targeting an MRAP — a heavy armored truck of the type supplied by Washington to Iraqi forces and presumably captured by ISIS forces in recent months.
“All aircraft exited the strike area safely,” Centcom said.