THE LEVANT – The UN Security Council is set to vote on Friday on a resolution aimed at weakening Islamists in Iraq and Syria by choking off funding and the flow of foreign fighters.
The measure proposed by Britain would be the council’s toughest response yet to the jihadists who now control large swaths of Iraq and Syria, and have been accused of carrying out atrocities in their campaign.
Diplomats told AFP that a text had been agreed by all 15 members of the council after nearly a week of negotiations and that the resolution would come up for a vote at 1900 GMT Friday.
The final text, seen by AFP, demands that Islamist State (IS) fighters in Iraq and Syria, rebels from the Al-Nusrah front in Syria and other al-Qaeda-linked groups “disarm and disband with immediate effect.”
It “calls on all member states to take national measures to suppress the flow of foreign terrorist fighters” to the extremist groups and threatens to slap sanctions on those involved in recruitment.
It also warns governments and entities that trade with the jihadists, who now control oilfields and other potentially cash-generating infrastructure, “could constitute financial support” that may lead to sanctions.
As a concrete sign of its resolve to take aim at jihadists, the council is to release a list of names of key extremist leaders who will be hit by sanctions including a visa ban and assets freeze for their ties to al-Qaeda.
The crisis in Iraq has prompted the United States to launch air strikes and air-drop food and water to help tens of thousands of civilians fleeing the jihadist advance in fear for their lives.
France has agreed to send weapons to shore up Kurdish forces fighting the Islamists, Britain has offered military supplies and Pope Francis has urged the United Nations to do everything it can to stop attacks against Christians.
IS and Al-Nusrah fighters have been accused of targeting Christian and other religious minorities, abducting women and girls and forcing boys into combat.
The horrifying photo of a boy posing with the head of a Syrian soldier, was posted last week on the Twitter account of his father, Khaled Sharrouf, an Australian who fled to Syria last year and is now an Islamic State fighter.
In the agreed text, the council accuses the jihadists of a series of atrocities including targeting civilians in Syria, mass executions and extrajudicial killings of Iraqi soldiers, attacks on schools and hospitals and rape.
It warns that such attacks may constitute a crime against humanity.
The text states that the council is acting under chapter VII of the UN charter, which means the measures could be enforced by military force or economic sanctions.
The council last week adopted a unanimous statement calling on governments to help Iraq cope with a humanitarian crisis sparked by a jihadist offensive, with some 1.2 million Iraqis displaced.
It was the third condemnation of the IS offensive that saw jihadists seize control of the main northern city of Mosul on June 10 and later declare a “caliphate” extending from northern Syria to eastern Iraq.
The United Nations is also backing new Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi and his bid to form a broad-based government that officials hope will be able to confront the IS “terrorist army”.
The Security Council on Wednesday urged Abadi to “work swiftly” to form his new government.