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“It is not right in God’s sight to obey men rather than God.”

Obama calls on world to destroy Islamic ‘Network of Death’

NEW YORK: US President Barack Obama has called on the world to join together to destroy the Islamic State terrorist group, which he branded a “network of death.”

Addressing the United Nations, he vowed to keep up the pressure on the militants, warning them to “leave the battlefield while they can.” He spoke a day after the US and five Arab allies opened their military operation in Syria against Islamic State with more than 200 airstrikes on a number of targets.

Prime Minister David Cameron is preparing to recall Parliament on Friday to support UK airstrikes in Iraq. Sky News understands that British military assets are being readied for attacks on IS. President Obama said the US would never be at war with Islam.

“When it comes to America and Islam, there is no ‘us’ and ‘them’ - there is only ‘us’,” he said in a 40-minute speech. “We reject any suggestion of a clash of civilisations.” He challenged Muslims in the Middle East to repudiate the ideology that has allowed groups like the Islamic State to flourish.

“Ultimately, the task of rejecting sectarianism and extremism is a generational task,” he said, “a task for the people of the Middle East themselves. “No external power can bring about a transformation of hearts and minds.”

He said Islamic State had gunned down innocent children and starved religious minorities to death. “No god condones this terror,” he said. “No grievance justifies these actions. There can be no negotiation with this brand of evil. The only language understood by killers like this is the language of force.”

The US President said America had no plan to occupy foreign lands, but would instead support Iraqis and Syrians fighting the extremists. Obama invited the rest of the world to join more than 40 nations who he said had already offered to join the US-led coalition.

The American military announced on Wednesday it had launched five more airstrikes targeting IS: one in eastern Syria near the Iraqi border, two west of Baghdad and two southeast of Irbil. The US President has already said the campaign against IS, which declared a ‘caliphate’ in swathes of Syria and Iraq, could last years.

US Secretary of State John Kerry told CNN in an interview on Wednesday, “This will go on for some time in several forms.” The first American raids on IS targets in Syria were launched on Tuesday, supported by Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Among the areas hit was the IS stronghold of Raqqa where it is thought British aid worker Alan Henning has been held hostage by the group. In the opening salvo of the campaign, the US also struck al Qaeda's Syria branch, known as the Nusra Front.

The leader of another al Qaeda unit called Khorasan, which the US says was planning imminent attacks against the West, died in the first day of strikes, an American official told Reuters.