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Hagel Says Anti-ISIL Coalition Continues to Grow

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The coalition to combat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is growing, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said today.

Hagel told the House Armed Services Committee that more than 40 nations have said they will participate, with more than 30 nations offering military support. And U.S. leaders will continue to expand the community of nations taking on ISIL’s brutality, he added.

Secretary of State John F. Kerry participated in a meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, along with foreign ministers from the Gulf Cooperation Council, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon. Saudi Arabia offered to host training for the moderate Syrian opposition, Hagel said.

“All 22 nations of the Arab League adopted a resolution at their summit in Cairo calling for comprehensive measures to combat ISIL,” he added.

Earlier this week, French President Francois Hollande hosted a conference attended by U.N. Security Council permanent members, European and Arab leaders, and representatives of the European Union, Arab League and United Nations. “They all pledged to help Iraq in the fight against ISIL including through military assistance,” Hagel said. “Other key allies, such as Australia, Canada, France and the United Kingdom are already contributing military support. And other partners have begun to make specific offers.”

Hagel said he expects the issue to be debated at the United Nations General Assembly session next week.

Retired Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, a man with experience in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout Central Command, has agreed to serve as special presidential envoy for the global coalition to counter ISIL.

“General Allen will work in a civilian diplomatic capacity to coordinate, build and sustain the coalition, drawing on his extensive experience in the Middle East,” Hagel said.

(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)

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