Britain and Germany have said they will not participate in any airstrikes on Syria. However, they will consider other ways of eliminating the "Islamic State" group from Iraq and Syria.
German and British foreign ministers said on Thursday that their countries would not participate in airstrikes in Syria. The statements were in response to an address the previous day by US President Barack Obama that the US planned to expand its military campaign against the "Islamic State" (IS).
"Britain will not be taking part in any airstrikes in Syria," British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond said, following talks with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Berlin.
Last year, the British parliament had also decided against participating in airstrikes.
However, the British foreign minister added that his country would, "look very carefully into the US-led plan and we will look at how the UK can best contribute to that plan, ruling nothing out at this stage."
Germany has already begun arming Kurdish forces fighting IS extremists, but foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier rejected the idea of participating in the airstrikes: "We have neither been asked to do that nor will we do that."
Syrian government opposes US campaign
Meanwhile on Thursday, the Syrian government criticized the US military campaign against IS militants within Syrian territory.
"Any action of any kind without the consent of the Syrian government would be an attack on Syria," Syria's National Reconciliation minister Ali Haider said. According to international law, Syria must consent for any military or non-military action within its territory, he added.
Russia, the closest ally of Syrian President Assad's government, also slammed the US' strategy saying it would be a blatant violation of international law.
Russian foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said: "In the absence of an appropriate decision of the UN Security Council, such a step would be an act of aggression, a crude violation of the norms of international law."
US looking for consensus
The Syrian opposition however, welcomed Obama's decision and urged Washington to take action against Syrian President Bashar Al Assad's government . Iraq's government also praised the US' strategy, which will be tabled before Congress to authorize and equip fighters.
Meanwhile, the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, is meeting with representatives from 10 Arab countries including Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq and Turkey in Jeddah to convince them to join in a coalition against IS jihadists.
President Obama's campaign includes dispatching 475 military personnel to help train Iraqi forces to deal with IS militants. In Syria, the US campaign will focus on improving the effectiveness of Syrian rebels and airstrikes on areas under IS control.
Enlisting Jihadis in western countries
The Islamic State is a jihadist organization that aims to establish a Caliphate in Iraq and Syria. The militant group advocates the rule of orthodox Muslim Sharia law and has seized vast swathes of northern Iraq and Syria.
IS is also known to have recruited members from Western countries. On Thursday, police in Paris arrested a man suspected of being one of the main recruiters for IS. Mourad Fares, played a key role in enlisting young French Jihadis in Toulouse and Strasbourg, according to the French interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve.
According to Sebastien Pietrasanta, a socialist Member of Parliament in France, nearly 350 French and 400 German youth are fighting as jihadis in Iraq and Syria.
mg/kms (AFP, AP, Reuters)