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PM seeks UN backing for IS action

International efforts to finalise a strategy for action against brutal Islamic State (IS) militants are expected to intensify after David Cameron confirmed Britain would seek United Nations support for any such plans.

Following a summit of foreign ministers from over 30 countries, the Prime Minister said he believes the UN will back an international coalition strategy for tackling IS.

Mr Cameron called such support an important part of the blueprint for dealing with the extremists, who have seized swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria.

It is still unclear whether Britain will join in United States air strikes against IS in Syria, with ministers refusing to rule it out but insisting that no decision had been made.

The Government is currently arming Kurdish Peshmerga forces fighting IS in Iraq and providing other support in the country.

With the UN summit next week potentially set to prove crucial in determining the way forward for the group of countries including Britain, the US, European countries and Middle Eastern states, Mr Cameron said he expected "full backing".

The PM said yesterday: "I see it that we want to have as part of our comprehensive strategy the full backing of the UN for all of the strategy that's being put in place and that is exactly what I think will happen."

Calls for Parliament to be recalled so MPs can consider and potentially vote on military action grew last night with deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman saying Mr Cameron should reconvene the Commons if force is to be used.

Meanwhile, the pressure for action grew as Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond revealed the Government does not know the whereabouts of hostages held by IS, including a British captive who the militants are threatening to kill.

The extremists are now threatening to murder former cab driver Alan Henning, who was snatched while travelling with an aid convoy in Syria.

The threat follows the killing of British aid worker David Haines and two American journalists.

Mr Hammond's comments came after the Paris summit in which world leaders including French president Francois Hollande and Iraqi president Fouad Massoum called for action.

US secretary of state John Kerry has been urging allies - especially Middle East and Gulf states - to show a united front and an American official said several Arab countries had offered to join air strikes.

However Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei disclosed that he had received a request from the US to join the fight against IS but said he had rejected it because of Washington's "unclean intentions".

Nevertheless Mr Hammond said that he hoped Tehran - a key player in the region - would still be "co-operative" with the coalition's objectives, although he admitted Iran would never be a "fully-fledged" member of the coalition.

Al Qaida asked IS to release Mr Henning four days after he was captured, according to American filmmaker Bilal Abdul Kareem.

He told the Independent that Jabhat al-Nusra, a local commander of an al Qaida group in Syria, had criticised the kidnappers, saying they had no right to take Mr Henning hostage simply because he was non-Muslim.

Mr Kareem said he had spoken to Mr al-Nusra shortly afterwards and he seemed confident IS would release their British hostage.

Mr Kareem also claimed other rival groups had pleaded with IS to release the aid worker, saying it would harm those people who need food and help.

"One of the aid workers told them that the people rely on these convoys and actions like these would create problems for their efforts in helping the Syrian people," he told the newspaper.

"The Isis commander replied: 'We don't need convoys - we have Allah.'"


From Belfast Telegraph