France’s president said there was “no time to lose” in the fight against ISIS, as Secretary of State John Kerry joined leaders from more than 20 nations at a crisis meeting in Paris on Monday to come up with a strategy to defeat the militant group in Iraq.
Diplomats from around the world pledged to fight Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham militants "by any means necessary." Reuters reported that the countries agreed to provide Baghdad with "appropriate military aid" to combat ISIS. However, Iran and the United States ruled out coordinating with each other, leaving Baghdad's government caught between two powerful and antagonistic allies.
Kerry has spent days travelling through the Middle East to drum up financial and political support for a broad-based coalition to tackle the militants’ threat. After the conference ended, Kerry met privately with President Fouad Massoum at the Iraqi Embassy in Paris.
The beheading of British aid worker David Haines – the third Westerner executed at the hands of ISIS in recent weeks – has ramped up calls for a quick and clear strategy to destroy the militants. British Prime Minister David Cameron on Sunday said the U.K. was considering all necessary steps to defeat ISIS – but stopped short of authorizing airstrikes.
French President Francois Hollande echoed the need for an international response as he opened Monday's international conference.
"The terrorist threat is global and the response must be global,” he said. “There is no time to lose.”
As the delegates from more than 20 nations gathered in Paris, French aircraft were due to begin their first reconnaissance flights over Iraq, France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told Europe 1 radio. The U.K. also has been flying reconnaissance missions over Iraq.
While Western nations agree on the need for a quick response to tackle the threat of ISIS, thus far the U.S has been the only nation carrying out airstrikes in Iraq since the militants launched their deadly campaign to consolidate a broad swath of territory straddling the country’s border with Syria.
While Obama has said the U.S. is considering airstrikes in Syria, America’s allies have been reluctant to join in. The U.K. has not ruled out participating in Syria airstrikes, but a previous attempt to gain parliamentary approval for similar military action last year failed. A statement issued after Monday's conference made no mention at all of Syria.
On Sunday's "Meet the Press," White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough outlined what success would look like in the war against ISIS.
"Success looks like an [ISIS] that no longer threatens our friends in the region, no longer threatens the United States. An [ISIS] that can't accumulate followers, or threaten Muslims in Syria, Iran, Iraq, or otherwise," McDonough said.
- Cassandra Vinograd
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.