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Military chiefs in Saudi for anti-Islamic State talks

RIYADH: Military chiefs from around the world will gather in the Saudi capital on Wednesday to assess the battle against Islamic State extremists, diplomatic sources said.

The two-day meeting, a followup to earlier talks, will gather “all the countries that are involved” in the United States-led fight against IS, including Gulf nations, one of the sources said.

“I think it’ll be sort of a general appraisal of where we’re at, what needs to be done,” added the source, who asked for anonymity.

Another diplomatic source said the meeting is “more an exchange of information” and a chance for co-ordination, rather than a forum for major decisions.

The talks among defence chiefs and their deputies coincide with the rise of IS in Libya, which has heightened concerns in the region after the group seized parts of Iraq and Syria last year.

Arab states have intensified their bombing of IS targets since the jihadists in early February claimed to have burned alive the Jordanian fighter pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh, whose plane went down over Syria last year.

Jordan’s information minister on Monday said Bahrain had deployed fighter jets in the kingdom to support the anti-IS air campaign.

Also Monday, the state news agency in the United Arab Emirates said its Jordanian-based warplanes hit oil refineries run by the jihadists.

The same day, Egypt carried out its first announced military action against IS in Libya, after the militants released a video showing the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians.

Regional powerhouse Saudi Arabia has since September been participating in the air strikes against IS in Syria.

The Pentagon announced last month that the first of nearly 1,000 US military personnel would soon begin deploying to Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar.

They will train moderate Syrian rebels to take on IS.

Among Western nations, Australia, Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France and the Netherlands have carried out air strikes against IS in Iraq, alongside the United States.

Germany said in December it would send about 100 soldiers to northern Iraq to train Kurdish peshmerga fighters battling the extremists.-AFP

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