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Britain to “protect” hostage

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Britain will look at “every possible option” to protect a British hostage being held by Islamic State, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has said. His comments come after a Cobra meeting to discuss the UK’s response to a threat by militants to kill the hostage in a video purporting to show the beheading of a second US journalist, BBC said.

IRAQ-ARBIL-KURDSIslamic State said the Briton would die unless US air strikes stopped. The video posted online purports to show the beheading of Steven Sotloff. Mr Hammond said the UK government had been aware of a British citizen being held by IS for some time. Steven Sotloff was seized in Syria last year, report added.

“The family of the hostage have asked the media not to release his name. The video, entitled “A second message to America”, was posted online two weeks after IS released a video showing the killing of another US journalist, James Foley. The British hostage appears at the end of the latest video, which was released on Tuesday and has been verified by the US.

“The footage also shows a masked militant with an English accent similar to that of the man who appeared in the video of the beheading of Mr Foley. Mr Sotloff, 31, who was seized in Syria last year, also appeared in the video of Mr Foley’s killing with a threat that he would be next.

“The US has launched more than 120 air strikes in Iraq in the past month, in an attempt to help Kurdish forces curb the advance of IS militants. Extreme Sunni group IS has seized large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria in recent months, declaring a new caliphate, or Islamic state.

“Britain has not taken military action against IS so far, but Mr Cameron refused to rule out the possibility earlier this week. He is due to set out his views in more detail during Prime Minister’s Questions later. Asked if the latest video would increase pressure on the government to take military action, one Downing Street official said the question was “way ahead of the curve”.¬†Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond attended the Cobra meeting, BBC added.