By Justin Sink
Destroying the Islamist terror group responsible for the beheading of two American journalists and a series of deadly attacks in Syria and Iraq could take years, Secretary of State John Kerry warned Friday.
“We’re convinced that in the days ahead we have the ability to destroy" the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, Kerry told reporters at a NATO summit in Wales. “It may take a year, it may take two years, it may take three years. But we’re determined it has to happen.”
“They’re an ambitious, avowed genocidal, territorial-grabbing, caliphate-desiring, quasi-state within a regular army,” Kerry said. “And leaving them in some capacity intact anywhere would leave a cancer in place that will ultimately come back to haunt us.”
Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met Friday with their NATO counterparts in an effort to build an international coalition willing to fight ISIS.
“We have the technology, we have the know-how. What we need is obviously the willpower to make certain that we are steady and stay at this,” Kerry said.
America’s top diplomat said allied partners should take a “holistic” approach to fighting the terror group, including airstrikes, training Iraqi troops on the frontlines, humanitarian assistance, intelligence coordination and financial targeting.
“Everybody can do something,” Kerry said. “People can contribute either ammunition or weapons or technical know-how or intel capacity. People can contribute advisors.”
The U.S. secretaries met Friday with representatives from the United Kingdom, France, Australia, Germany, Canada, Turkey, Italy, Poland and Denmark. Kerry said he hoped to hear clear commitments on what they would be willing to contribute before the U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) in New York in two weeks.
“We very much hope that people will be as declarative as some of our friends around the table have been in order to be clear about what they’re willing to commit, because we must be able to have a plan together by the time we come to UNGA, we need to have this coalesce,” Kerry said. “We need a clarity to the strategy.”
Kerry also hinted the group planned to talk about the possibility of expanding anti-ISIS operations to Syria. So far, the Obama administration has opted against airstrikes in that country, despite pressure from some on Capitol Hill.
“There are obviously implications about Syria in this, and we can talk about that if we want in the course of the morning,” Kerry said.