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Calls for Iran to join West in fight against Islamic State

Iran follows US suit in providing Iraq with military advisors to fight IS militants amid French call to include Tehran in anti-IS coalition
Iran deputy foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian during Baghdad press conference in 2007 (AFP)

France's foreign minister on Wednesday pressed "all countries in the region" as well as Iran to join Western nations in the fight against Islamic State (IS) fighters rampaging through Iraq and Syria.

"We would like all the countries of the region to join in this action (that includes the Arab countries and Iran), but we would also like the P5 to join in with this action," Laurent Fabius told a parliamentary committee, referring to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.

"We believe that this terrorist group is of a different nature and level of danger than others. As surreal as it may seem, this group considers Al-Qaeda too soft."

He warned that IS's ambitions spread far beyond the borders of Iraq and Syria.

"Today it's Iraq. But the Caliphate is the whole of the region. And beyond that region, there's obviously Europe."

We are all "people to be destroyed and slaughtered because the goal and raison d'etre of this gang is to kill anyone who does not submit to them," added the minister.

The French call came as Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said Wednesday that Iran is providing advice to Iraqi Kurds fighting IS militants.

"We have given help with policy and advice to the Iraq government. We have acted in the same manner to Iraqi Kurdistan," Amir-Abdollahian told the Arabic service of state television.

Amir-Abdollahian denied the presence of Iranian military presence in Baghdad, Samarra or Iraq's the Kurdish region.

"We have not sent weapons either, but we have given advice and shared our experiences," Amir-Abdollahian said.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Marzieh Afkham said talks were also under way with some European countries.

"Iran has begun discussions with European countries about the danger from terrorism and takfiris (extremists) and the increase in their activities," Afkham said in reply to a question about British Prime Minister David Cameron's statement on cooperation with Iran against Islamic State (IS).

Amir-Abdollahian accused the United States of doing nothing to halt "the flow of capital" to militants groups in neighbouring Syria.

US may expand anti-IS offensive after journalist's execution

Earlier this month, US President Barack Obama ordered US warplanes to strike IS targets in Iraq to defend the Kurdish regional capital Arbil and civilian refugees fleeing the militants advance.

On Tuesday the group released a video showing the execution-style murder of American journalist James Foley, a 40-year-old US reporter who was captured in Syria in late 2012 and held hostage ever since.

The alleged killing of Foley is likely to further bolster US backing for anti-IS operations.

The murder of American journalist James Foley by IS is the group's "first terrorist attack against the United States," a former head of the CIA warned Wednesday.

Michael Morell, a former deputy director of the intelligence agency who was its acting chief between 2012 and 2013, said the militants group is trying to intimidate Washington into calling off air strikes.

"And I think our response should be and our response will be to not do that. In fact, we should pick up the pace here," he told CBS News, referring to recent US strikes against IS militants in Iraq.

"The definition of terrorism is political violence, violence for political effect. So we should mark this date down because this is ISIS' first terrorist attack against the United States."

President Barack Obama had already said Monday that the United States has embarked on a long-term mission to defeat IS in Iraq.

"We will continue to pursue a long-term strategy to turn the tide against ISIL by supporting the new Iraqi government and working with key partners in the region," Obama said, using another acronym by which the group is known.

This week, with assistance from US bombing runs, Kurdish and Iraqi forces began to push IS forces back and recaptured a strategic dam.

IS and its Sunni allies have overrun large chunks of Iraq.

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