Syria’s opposition backs US plan to tackle Islamic State

Syria’s opposition National Coalition welcomed a US plan to tackle the jihadist Islamic State group, but also urged action against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

In a statement, the group said it backed a US plan for air strikes in Syria and training of rebel forces, but that a “stable and extremist-free region” required “degrading and ultimately removing the Assad repressive regime.”

Earlier, US President Barack Obama pledged a “relentless” war against the Islamic State, a jihadist group that has declared an Islamic “caliphate” in large tracts of territory in Syria and Iraq.

The group has carried out abuses including beheadings and crucifixions, and faced a backlash from Syrian rebel groups opposed to its violations and harsh interpretation of Islam.

Mr Obama said he would “not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria,” using a different acronym for the group, and pledged to strengthen Syria’s opposition.The Syrian Coalition said it had “long called for this action, and ~ warned time and again of the growing threat of this extremist group.”

The moderate rebel Free Syrian Army “can succeed, but it needs the necessary support that would enable it to form a reliable and well-equipped force,” the statement added.

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