Baghdad not under 'imminent threat' from Islamic State: US

Iraq's capital Baghdad is not under imminent danger of falling to the Islamic State despite gains made by the jihadist group in the country's west, the US has said.

PTI| Updated: Oct 17, 2014, 13:31 PM IST

Washington: Iraq's capital Baghdad is not under imminent danger of falling to the Islamic State despite gains made by the jihadist group in the country's west, the US has said.

"We do not assess that the (Iraqi) capital city (Baghdad) is under imminent threat right now," Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby told a news conference.

The Iraqi Security Forces "continue to stiffen their defensive positions in and around the capital in a very competent, capable way. And so right now we believe that Baghdad is safe from imminent threat," Kirby said.

He said: "There are not masses of formations of ISIL forces outside Baghdad about to come in."

State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki, at the joint conference with Kirby, said the US is working with European leaders on de-legitimising the Islamic State (IS), which also goes by other acronyms such as ISIL and ISIS.

"So they are playing a role in all five lines of effort," Psaki said.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said that this conveys the "commitment" of the international community to something that is not going to be a short-term proposition.

"The President has been clear that this is going to require a sustained commitment, and that it is critically important to not just the US but to all of our coalition partners that this kind of extremist organisation is not allowed to establish a safe haven in Syria," Earnest said.

The Pentagon has named its campaign against the IS, which has gained control of large parts of Syria and Iraq, 'Operation Inherent Resolve.'

The US military continues its air strikes against the jihadist group in the Syrian city of Kobane.

"With these airstrikes, we took advantage of the opportunity to hit ISIL as they attempt to mass their forces and combat power on the Kobane-held positions. While the security situation there does remain tenuous, ISIL's advances appear to have slowed and we know that we have inflicted damage upon them," Earnest said.

Meanwhile, President Obama continued to reach out to world leaders to strengthen the fight against IS.

In his conversation with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the two leaders discussed the developments in the campaign against IS.

"The President thanked Prime Minister Harper for Canada's contribution of advisers to help train Iraqi forces as well as plans to deploy fighter jets, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets to support coalition airstrikes in Iraq against ISIL," the White House said.