Russia sceptical of NATO proposal to fight IS

Russia is sceptical of NATO's proposal to set up an international coalition to fight the Islamic State (IS) Sunni extremist organisation in the Middle East, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday.

Moscow: Russia is sceptical of NATO's proposal to set up an international coalition to fight the Islamic State (IS) Sunni extremist organisation in the Middle East, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday.

"The alliance created on the ground of the interests of just one group of countries couldn't be successful," Lavrov said, noting that the proposed coalition is based on the interests of certain countries and intends to neutralise the threat by ideology and confrontational thoughts.

US President Barack Obama said after Thursday's NATO summit in Wales that "NATO allies and partners are prepared to join in a broad, international effort to combat the threat".

US warplanes have been bombing IS targets in northern Iraq since Aug 8, and Obama approved surveillance flights over war-torn Syria in late August. Meanwhile, US military personnel have been sent to Iraq in batches since June to assess the threat posed by the IS.

Lavrov said Moscow was concerned that the US might strike Syrian territory without Damascus' consent and weaken the army of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Xinhua reported. The strategy, he said, would be "a step toward colossal escalation of the conflicts."

Lavrov stressed that Moscow was ready to cooperate with the West in fighting extremism "because we are responsible members of the UN Security Council, not because we yield to some ultimatums".

The IS, earlier known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, is an Al Qaeda splinter group that has seized swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria and forced thousands of people, mainly from minority communities, to flee their homes. The IS fighters have announced the establishment of a caliphate in areas under its control in both Syria and Iraq.

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