Austria joins US-led coalition against Isis
Austria’s Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz has announced that Austria is now part of the US-led coalition against Islamic State (Isis) militants.
Kurz said that Austria’s participation will be political, but not military and that as a neutral country it will provide mainly humanitarian assistance to persecuted religious minorities such as Christians and Yazidis in Iraq and Syria.
He pointed out that Muslim countries were also part of the alliance and that it was not a religious conflict but “a struggle against extremists who are mostly killing Muslims”.
He made his remarks before leaving for a United Nations General Assembly in New York, which will table a resolution to make the recruitment and financing of Isis fighters illegal.
The United States is leading efforts to build a global response to the growing Isis threat.
On Monday the US and five Arab allies launched the first strikes against Isis militants in Syria.
The Pentagon said warplanes, drones and Tomahawk missiles were used in the attacks, which targeted several areas including Isis stronghold Raqqa.
Austria’s neutrality means it cannot participate in any air strikes in Iraq or Syria, nor allow foreign fighter jets to travel through its airspace.
Isis has taken control of large areas of Syria and Iraq, imposed a harsh brand of Islam, and declared a caliphate.
The group has executed captive soldiers, aid workers and journalists, and threatened the mass killing of Iraqi religious minorities.
Earlier this week Isis militants called on Muslims to target citizens of countries that have joined the US-led coalition.