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Tony Blair visits British Ebola effort in Sierra Leone

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has visited Sierra Leone to visit those leading the Ebola response in the country.

He praised the efforts of British troops helping to fight the virus.


US Military conducts airstrikes on extremists in Iraq

US forces have carried out four airstrikes on Islamic State extremist targets in Iraq, military officials have said.

The airstrikes - conducted by a mix of manned and drone aircraft - destroyed armoured vehicles and damaged a Humvee truck southwest of Kirkuk.

US Central Command say that they have now conducted 190 airstrikes across Iraq since the beginning of the operation against extremists in the country.

Islamic State calls for attacks on US citizens

A convoy of Iraqi security forces patrols the outskirts of Ramadi as smoke rises from clashes with Islamic State militants. Credit: Osama Al-dulaimi/Reuters

Islamic State has urged its followers to attack citizens of the United States and other countries that have joined a coalition aimed at wiping out the radical group.

A spokesman for the militants claimed the intervention by the US-led coalition would be "broken and defeated", according to a transcript of an audio recording in Arabic.

Washington is building an international coalition to combat Islamic State, which has taken control of large parts of Iraq and Syria. Countries including France, Canada and Australia have pledged their support.

The US has said that other countries would be willing to join the coalition if it proceeds with air strikes against the group in Syria in addition to those made in Iraq by American and French jets.

'We should not underestimate threat IS pose'

A car drives near a flag belonging to Islamic State militants in Iraq. Credit: Reuters

A former director of British special forces has said the West "should not underestimate" the threat Islamic State militants pose.

Lieutenant General Sir Graeme Lamb, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, told BBC Radio 4 it was important to contain IS as they presented themselves as an "unstoppable force".

He added the government should be prepared to "rule in" ground forces to tackle the issue and that advisors should also be sent to assist the Iraqi army.

Speaking about IS, Lieutenant Lamb said: "Now we need to crush them.

"I'm not talking about large-scale conventional forces because Isil don't represent that form of threat.

"But I am talking about advisers, special forces, airborne brigades, for instance, the battalion of the landing of the US marine corps, those sort of capabilities which ourselves, the United Kingdom, and the United States have. But we should be prepared to rule them in."


Blair: West should use ground forces if 'absolutely necessary'

Tony Blair said the West should do more to fight IS if necessary. Credit: PA

Tony Blair has said the West should not rule out using ground troops to fight Islamist extremists in the future if it is "absolutely necessary".

The British government has already supplied arms to Kurdish fighters on the front line.

But the former Prime Minister said air strikes alone would not be enough to defeat IS.

In an essay, he wrote while training and equipping local fighters with weapons may work the option of sending in combat soldiers "should not be ruled out".

He said: "Provided that there is the consent of the population directly threatened and with the broadest achievable alliance ... we have, on occasions, to play our part."

Blair warns 'airpower will not suffice' in battle IS

Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Airpower alone will not defeat extremists like the Islamist State militants currently holding large swathes of territory in northern Iraq and parts of Syria, Tony Blair has said.

In an essay, the former Prime Minister wrote: "Air power is a major component of this, to be sure, especially with the new weapons available to us.

"But - and this is the hard truth - air power alone will not suffice. They can be hemmed in, harried and to a degree contained by air power. But they can't be defeated by it."

Mr Blair, whose premiership came to be defined by the Iraq War, acknowledged there was "no appetite" for ground engagement against IS.

But he warned: "You cannot uproot this extremism unless you go to where it originates from and fight it."

Blair: West should commit troops to fight extremists

Militant Islamist fighters take part in a military parade along the streets of northern Raqqa province June 30, 2014 Credit: Reuters

Western powers including the United Kingdom and the US should be prepared to commit ground forces in the fight against extremists like the Islamic State, former Prime Minister Tony Blair has said.

In an essay, Mr Blair argues that air strikes alone will not be enough to defeat IS or similar groups, and while training and equipping local fighters may work, the option of sending in combat soldiers should not be ruled out.

Mr Blair, whose premiership came to be defined by the Iraq War, acknowledged there was "no appetite" for ground engagement against IS but warned: "You cannot uproot this extremism unless you go to where it originates from and fight it."

He said the struggle against Islamist extremism should be seen as an international fight rather than a series of isolated conflicts, comparing it to the fascist and communist ideologies of the last century.

In an essay on his Tony Blair Faith Foundation's website the former premier also stressed the importance of engaging with a wider spectrum of radical Islamism, not just the violent fringe.

He said because extremists such as IS - formerly known as Isis - are "fanatical" and "prepared both to kill and to die" there could be no solution that does not involve force "with a willingness to take casualties in carrying the fight through to the end".

"This is where we get to the rub. We have to fight groups like Isis," he said.

"There can be an abundance of diplomacy, all necessary relief of humanitarian suffering, every conceivable statement of condemnation which we can muster, but unless they're accompanied by physical combat, we will mitigate the problem but not overcome it."

Former PM Tony Blair welcomes Gaza ceasefire

Former prime minister Tony Blair has welcomed the announcement of an open-ended ceasefire in Gaza.

The Middle East peace envoy congratulated the Egyptian government on its successful negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian factions.

The Quartet will now concentrate on a long-term plan for Gaza and for its reconstruction, including the effective and efficient reopening and reconnection to the outside world under the authority of the Palestinian authority government.

Such a plan will enable a proper and decent life for the people of Gaza, as well as protect the security of the people of Israel.

It is only tragic that such a ceasefire has come too late to save the lives of so many innocent people.

– tony blair, middle east peace envoy
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