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23:21, 04 September 2014 Thursday

Obama urges anti-jihadist front as NATO leaders gather

Obama urges anti-jihadist front as NATO leaders gather

President Barack Obama urged a broad front against the Islamic State as NATO leaders gathered in Wales Thursday with Britain and France weighing joining US air strikes in Iraq.

Pressure on Western governments to take firm action against the jihadists in Iraq and Syria has risen sharply after the brutal videotaped execution of a second American journalist and a threat to kill a captive British aid worker.

"We know that if we are joined by the international community, we can continue to shrink (IS's) sphere of influence, its effectiveness, its financing, its military capabilities," Obama said.

"And the question is going to be making sure we've got the right strategy, but also making sure that we've got the international will to do it," he said in Estonia before heading to the summit in Wales.

With one of its nationals also under threat of beheading, summit hosts Britain said it would not rule out taking part in air strikes if necessary.

"I can assure you that we will look at every possible option to protect this person," Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said.

And French President Francois Hollande likewise raised the prospect of a military response to the threat posed by IS.

"The head of state underlined the importance of a political, humanitarian and if necessary military response in accordance with international law," his office said.

Obama will lead a UN Security Council session on the threat of foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria on September 25, a US official said Wednesday.

His Secretary of State John Kerry revealed he was working to forge a global coalition to fight the "mediaeval savagery" of Islamic jihadists controlling a swathe of Syria and Iraq.

It said the journalist's killing, which came on the heels of its beheading last month of another US reporter, James Foley, was in retaliation for expanded US air strikes against its fighters in Iraq during the past week.

It warned that a British hostage would be next unless London backs off from its support for Washington's air campaign.