By Michelle Nichols
UNITED NATIONS, Aug 15 (Reuters) - The United Nations Security Council took aim at Islamist militants in Iraq and Syria on Friday, blacklisting six people including the Islamic State spokesman and threatening sanctions against those who finance, recruit or supply weapons to the insurgents.
The 15-member council unanimously adopted a resolution that aims to weaken the Islamic State - an al Qaeda splinter group that has seized swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria and declared a caliphate - and al Qaeda's Syrian wing Nusra Front.
Islamic State has long been blacklisted by the Security Council, while Nusra Front was added earlier this year. Both groups are designated under the U.N. al Qaeda sanctions regime.
Friday's resolution named six people who will be subject to an international travel ban, asset freeze and arms embargo, including Islamic State spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, an Iraqi described by U.N. experts as one of the group's "most influential emirs" and close to its leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi.
The Islamic State's swift and brutal push to the borders of Iraq's autonomous ethnic Kurdish region and toward Baghdad has sparked the first U.S. air strikes in Iraq since the withdrawal of American troops in 2011.
The Security Council resolution "deplores and condemns in the strongest terms the terrorist acts of ISIL (Islamic State) and its violent extremist ideology, and its continued gross, systematic and widespread abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law."
— Jon Williams (@WilliamsJon) August 15, 2014
It also blacklisted Said Arif, a former Algerian army officer who escaped house arrest in France in 2013 and joined Nusra Front in Syria, and Abdul Mohsen Abdallah Ibrahim al-Charekh of Saudi Arabia, dubbed "a leading terrorist internet propagandist" who heads Nusra Front in Syria's Latakia district.
Hamid Hamad Hamid al-Ali and Hajjaj bin Fahd al-Ajmi, both from Kuwait, were sanctioned for allegedly providing financial support to Nusra Front - Ajmi's fundraising includes at least one Twitter campaign, according U.N. experts - while Abdelrahman Mouhamad Zafir al Dabidi al Jahani of Saudi Arabia was named because he runs Nusra Front's foreign fighter networks.
Britain initially aimed to adopt the text by the end of August, but accelerated its plan after a surge by Islamic State, which poses the biggest threat to Iraq since Saddam Hussein was toppled by a U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
The resolution condemns the recruitment of foreign fighters and expresses readiness to blacklist people financing or facilitating travel of foreign fighters. It expresses concern that revenue generated from oilfields captured by both groups is being used to organize attacks.
Islamic State militants are selling oil from oilfields in Iraq and refineries they control to local communities and smugglers, augmenting their existing ample finances, U.S. intelligence officials said on Thursday.
The resolution condemns any direct or indirect trade with Islamic State or Nusra Front and warns such moves could lead to sanctions. It asks U.N. experts - charged with monitoring violations of the council's al Qaeda sanctions regime - to report in 90 days on the threat posed by Islamic State and Nusra Front, and on details of their recruitment and funding.
The resolution is under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which makes it legally binding for U.N. member states and gives the council authority to enforce decisions with economic sanctions or force. However, it does not mandate military force to tackle the insurgents. (Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Louis Charbonneau and Frances Kerry)
08/16/2014 6:17 PM EDT
US Military: Fighters, Drone Aircraft Strike Militants In N Iraq
BREAKING: US military: Fighters, drone aircraft strike militants near Irbil and Mosul Dam in Iraq— The Associated Press (@AP) August 16, 2014
08/16/2014 6:07 PM EDT
Kurdish Officials Say 300 Killed In Friday 'Massacre'
Correspondent for Britain's The Sunday Times Hala Jaber reports that Kurdish and Yazidi officials say the death toll from the Islamic State's attack on the Iraq village of Kocho on Friday is higher than previously estimated. A Kurdish official initially said around 80 people lost their lives.
.4/ 1000 women were taken as prisoners by #IS split into 2 groups. The "pretty incl gilrs aged btwn 10-11 and the others.— Hala Jaber (@HalaJaber) August 16, 2014
08/16/2014 5:57 PM EDT
British PM: Islamic State Militants Could Target UK
Islamic State militants in Iraq could grow strong enough to target the UK unless action is taken - PM David Cameron http://t.co/k2i5CjTm2S— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) August 16, 2014
08/16/2014 4:49 PM EDT
NYT Correspondent Recounts Iraq Helicopter Crash
New York Times correspondent Alissa J. Rubin tells her story inside the Iraqi helicopter that crashed on the Sinjar mountains on Tuesday while attempting to rescue stranded Yazidis.
Rubin was wounded in the crash and dictated the article from her hospital bed in Istanbul, the newspaper notes.
Read her moving account on The New York Times here.
08/16/2014 2:23 PM EDT
Iraq Refugees Learn Of Yazidi Massacre
The BBC's Yalda Hakim reports from a refugee camp in Dohuk on how the Yazidi community learned of an alleged massacre by Islamic State militants in Iraq.
Watch the BBC report here.
08/16/2014 1:03 PM EDT
U.S. Provides Air Support To Kurdish Offensive
Kurdish forces, supported by U.S. warplanes, are battling to recaptured Iraq's largest dam from Islamic State militants, Agence France Presse reports.
More from AFP:
Kurdish forces attacked the Islamic State fighters who wrested the Mosul dam from them a week earlier, a general told AFP.
"Kurdish peshmerga, with US air support, have seized control of the eastern side of the dam" complex, Major General Abdelrahman Korini told AFP, saying several jihadists had been killed.
08/16/2014 12:54 PM EDT
The Kurdish Iraqi leader has appealed to Germany for weapons to battle the advancing Islamic State, Reuters reports.
Germany has shied away from direct involvement in military conflicts for much of the post-war era and a survey conducted for Bild am Sonntag newspaper indicated that almost three quarters of Germans were against shipping weapons to the Kurds.
But Germany's defense minister has said the government was looking into the possibility of delivering military hardware.
Masoud Barzani, the president of Iraqi Kurdistan, said the Kurds needed more than the humanitarian aid that Germany began sending on Friday to support people forced to flee their homes by the Sunni militant group's advance.
"We also expect Germany to deliver weapons and ammunition to our army so that we can fight back against the IS terrorists," Barzani told German magazine Focus. He said they needed German training and what they lacked most were anti-tank weapons.
08/16/2014 11:38 AM EDT
U.S.-Backed Kurds Attempt To Recapture Mosul Dam
#BREAKING: US-backed Kurds in bid to retake Iraq's largest dam: general— Agence France-Presse (@AFP) August 16, 2014
08/16/2014 11:14 AM EDT
Airstrikes Target Islamic State After Reports Of Yazidi Massacre
Airstrikes pounded the area around Iraq's largest dam on Saturday in an effort to drive out militants who captured it earlier this month, as reports emerged of the massacre of some 80 members of the Yazidi religious minority by Islamic extremists.
Residents living near the Mosul Dam told The Associated Press that the area was being targeted by airstrikes, but it was not immediately clear whether the attacks were being carried out by Iraq's air force or the U.S., which last week launched an air campaign aimed at halting the advance of the Islamic State group across the country's north.
The extremist group seized the dam on the Tigris River on Aug. 7. Residents near the dam say the airstrikes killed militants, but that could not immediately be confirmed. The residents spoke on condition of anonymity out of fears for their safety.
08/15/2014 6:31 PM EDT
U.S. May Speed Up Aid To Iraq Despite Billions Already Spent
The United States may accelerate economic and military aid to Iraq now Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has stood down, Reuters reports.
U.S. officials first want assurances that the Iraqi government has moved away from the sectarian policies of al-Maliki's administration, according to the news agency.
Read the full story here.