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Armed Conflict

Security Council seeks to block 'Islamic State' petrofunding

The UN Security Council has passed a resolution to stop "Islamic State" from raising funds through oil, antiquities and hostages. The EU is debating antiterrorism steps that could prove palatable to the 28-nation bloc.

More than 35 countries co-sponsored Thursday's show of resolve to confront the " Islamic State" (IS). The council banned all trade in antiquities from besieged areas, threatened sanctions on anyone buying oil from IS and al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front militants and urged states to stop ransom payments on kidnapped citizens. Fifteen nations unanimously adopted the resolution, drafted by Russia, which gives the council authority to enforce decisions with economic sanctions but does not authorize using military force.

"We took yet another very important step in suppressing the funding of terrorists," Vitaly Churkin, Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, said on Thursday.

Following attacks that started January 7 at a magazine in Paris and ended January 9 in a supermarket, France and other EU countries have sought more effective ways to deal with armed militancy, especially the problem of Europeans who leave to fight in Syria or Iraq and then return home. As heads of state and government gathered in Brussels on Thursday, EU President Donald Tusk, the host of an official summit, said he would seek the leaders' agreement on a "work plan to step up the fight against terrorism."

'Serious terrorist threat'

To prepare for Thursday's summit in Brussels, EU foreign, finance, interior and justice ministers drew up recommendations on what to do. They could consider steps such as an EU-wide passenger registry of air travelers, tighter border checks and fighting the use of the Internet to spread certain ideas.

On Wednesday, for example, the European Parliament voted 532-136 to work toward getting a passenger name record program enacted by the end of 2015, but insisted that the EU simultaneously rewrite its rules on data collection and sharing to ensure legally binding protections. The European Parliament's Green bloc, however, opposed the resolution, protesting that it gave "carte blanche for EU governments to scale back personal freedoms." The Greens wanted officials to conduct targeted surveillance on individual suspects already known to authorities.

Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb said he and most other EU heads of state sought "a careful balance between civil liberties and security." Leaders will consider other measures as well, including better coordination among institutions such as Europol, Eurojust - the EU-wide agency of prosecutors, police and investigating magistrates - and the bloc's counterterrorism coordinator. Over the past several months, Germany has prosecuted several people accused of aiding the group, including a young woman last week.

The moves by the United Nations and EU come as President Barack Obama has asked the US Congress for additional powers in his country's war against IS. Efforts against the group in Australia have led to the capture of two men flying an IS flag.

President Bashar al-Assad has said he will not allow international forces onto Syrian soil to battle IS.

mkg/rc (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)

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