UK, US to Hold IS Talks

UK, US to Hold IS TalksUK, US to Hold IS Talks

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and US Secretary of State John Kerry will host a meeting in London on Thursday of members of the coalition against the Islamic State group, officials said.

The one-day talks will involve foreign ministers from about 20 countries, including Arab states, to discuss progress so far on tackling IS militants who have occupied swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria, AFP reported.

A British official confirmed the meeting will take place at Lancaster House in central London, a fortnight after deadly attacks in Paris by three gunmen claiming to act on behalf of al-Qaeda and the IS.

“This will be an important opportunity to take stock and assess the progress made so far in our joint efforts to tackle IS poisonous ideology,” Hammond said in a statement. “The key active partners in the coalition, including our Arab partners, will gather in London to decide what more we need to do to degrade and defeat them.”

The meeting comes after US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron met in Washington this week.

Discussions will focus on five areas -- foreign fighters, the military campaign against IS targets, its sources of finances, strategic communications and humanitarian assistance, the official said.

  Yazidi Captives Freed

IS freed around 350 members of Iraq’s Yazidi minority on Saturday, delivering them to safety in the country’s Kurdish north.

Almost all those released were elderly, disabled, or unwell, and included several infants with serious illnesses. IS militants attacked Yazidis in northwest Iraq last summer, killing or capturing and enslaving thousands of the minority group.

Those who could fled to the autonomous Kurdistan region, where many are living in camps along with other religious and ethnic minorities as well as Sunni Muslims displaced by the IS.

One elderly Yazidi among those released said some of them feared they would be executed when the militants ordered them onto buses. Instead, they were taken to a crossing point between IS-controlled Hawija and the Kurdish city of Kirkuk.

Kurdish Peshmerga forces drove back IS militants in north-western Iraq last month, breaking a long siege of Sinjar mountain where thousands of Yazidis had been stranded for months. But many Yazidi villages remain under IS control.