REUTERS - Defense chiefs from the United States, France, Britain and four other countries pledged on Wednesday to intensify their fight against Islamic State, looking to capitalize on recent battlefield gains against the militants.
The jihadist group lost control of the western Iraqi city of Ramadi last month, in a sorely needed victory for U.S.-backed Iraqi forces. But critics, including some in the U.S. Congress, say the U.S. strategy is still far too weak and lacks sufficient military support from Sunni Arab allies.
Sunni Arab nations have largely dropped out of the air campaign against Islamic State since last year joining a Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen.
"We agreed that we all must do more," U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter told a news conference after talks in Paris among the "core" military coalition members, which also included Germany, Italy, Australia and the Netherlands.
A U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the United States was looking for additional contributions of special operations forces from allies. The official also signaled a willingness among core contributors to consider providing additional police and military trainers as needed.
A joint statement by the ministers re-committed their governments to work with the U.S.-led coalition "to accelerate and intensify the campaign."
The Paris setting for the talks itself sent a message, coming just over two months after the city was struck by deadly shooting and bombing attacks claimed by Islamic State.
French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Islamic State was in retreat. "Because we have been able to hit its resources, it's now time to increase our collective effort," he said.
British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said the goal was now to "tighten the noose around the head of the snake in Syria in Raqqa."
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now