UK & World News
IS Threat: 'West May Have To Talk To Syria'
The former head of the British Army says the West should consider negotiating with Syria's president to tackle Islamic State (IS) forces in Syria and Iraq.
Lord Dannatt said the time may have come to talk to Bashar al Assad about collaborating in the fight against IS which now controls large areas of the two countries.
He told Sky News: "You have to at least consider the otherwise unpalatable thought that maybe we've got to have some kind of dialogue, whether it's under the counter or over the counter, with President Assad of Syria.
"The old dictum that my enemy's enemy is my friend just might have some credence in this less than satisfactory and pretty extraordinary set of times that we are in."
However, UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond ruled out working with Mr Assad - who is accused of carrying out war crimes, including chemical attacks, during his country's three-year civil war.
He said Britain would help Kurdish and Iraqi forces with weapons and training once there was a credible government in place in Baghdad.
In Iraq, at least 68 people were killed when Shia fighters opened fire on minority Sunni Muslims in a village mosque in Baquba, Diyala province.
Residents said 150 worshippers were in Imam Wais mosque on the Muslim day of prayer when militiamen burst in with machine guns.
The bloodbath is a major setback for Prime Minister-designate Haider al Abadi, from the majority Shia community, who is seeking support from Sunnis and ethnic Kurds to take on IS.
Sunni politicians said they would suspend talks with Mr Abadi's new government in protest at the attack.
Elsewhere, Kurdish forces have launched a major assault to try to retake the northeast Iraqi towns of Jalula and Sadiyah.
Sky's Alex Crawford, reporting from the outskirts of Jalula, said the operation was being carried out by the Kurdish military's elite counter-terrorism unit, backed up by peshmerga forces.
She said the towns, near the Iranian border and semi-autonomous Kurdish region, had been under IS control for more than two months.
Kurdish forces have already taken back a major checkpoint, which Sunni militants had controlled.
Crawford said: "What is significant about this assault is that they (the Kurds) are doing this pretty much entirely on their own.
"They've had very little air support. There is no evidence of any outside weaponry, military hardware to back them up."
On Thursday, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said IS jihadists pose the most dangerous threat America has faced for years.
The group, which beheaded American journalist James Foley in response to US airstrikes in Iraq, is "beyond just a terrorist group", he said.
"They marry ideology, a sophistication of strategic and tactical military prowess. They are tremendously well-funded," he added.
US airstrikes in Syria have not been ruled out.
When asked about that possibility, Mr Hagel said Washington is "exploring all options".
General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, also did not discount attacks on IS fighters in Syria.
"This is an organisation that has an apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision and which will eventually have to be defeated," he said.
Michael Scheuer, a former CIA senior officer, said defeating IS will require an "enormous" number of Western troops on the ground which would mean an "enormous bloodbath".