U.S. Said to Have Arab Backing to Bomb Islamic State in Syria

Several Arab countries have offered to join the U.S. in bombing Islamic State militants in Iraq and potentially in Syria, according to a U.S. official.

Any airstrikes in Syria would be limited to the al-Qaeda breakaway group and wouldn’t be directed at Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, a second official said. The officials, who asked not to be identified under State Department rules, didn’t say which countries had agreed to join the U.S. military coalition against Islamic State or what would lead the U.S. to widen its raids to Syria.

The officials spoke after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry wrapped up a Middle East swing that included a meeting with ministers from regional countries in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. At that meeting, ministers agreed to aid the expanded assault on the Islamic State that U.S. President Barack Obama outlined earlier this month, without disclosing details.

Kerry sought support from Sunni rulers whose main goal in the Syrian civil war has been to topple Assad, an objective shared by Islamic State. The group’s emergence as the most powerful force among Syrian rebels and its rapid advances in Iraq in recent months has led to a shift, with the Saudis and other regional leaders signaling they see the militants as a threat to their interests and are ready to act with the U.S. against them.

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