White House condemns new ISIS video

The White House on Tuesday condemned the release of a new video from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) demanding a $200 million ransom for the release of two Japanese prisoners, saying it was “further evidence of the deplorable tactics of this extremist group."

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said in an interview with CNN that the U.S. would work with international partners to secure the release of the hostages, but the administration’s policy was not to pay ransoms to terrorists.


The video closely resembles previous videos released ahead of the executions of American and British aid workers and journalists. It features a man clad in all black standing next to two kneeling Japanese prisoners in orange jumpsuits.

“Just as how your government has made the foolish decision to pay $200 million to fight [ISIS], you now have 72 hours to pressure your government in making a wise decision, by paying that $200 million to save the lives of your citizens,” the man says.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said his country would do what it could to protect its citizens but would not give in to the “unforgivable” actions of terrorists, according to The Associated Press.

The State Department in a statement Tuesday called for the immediate release of the Japanese hostages.

"The United States is fully supportive of Japan in this matter," spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. "We stand in solidarity with Japan and are coordinating closely.  Secretary Kerry plans to speak later today with Foreign Minister Kishida to reiterate our support."

Separately, White House chief of staff Denis McDonoughDenis Richard McDonoughThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump retreats on census citizenship question Democratic candidates should counter Trump's foreign policy Paul Ryan joins University of Notre Dame faculty MORE denied reports Tuesday that the administration was rethinking its Syria policy in the wake of ISIS’s persistent hold on large swaths of the country. 

Some had suggested that the White House would de-emphasize its effort to unseat Syrian President Bashar Assad, who is battling ISIS. Currently, the administration has focused on supporting moderate rebels who are combating both ISIS and Assad in the country’s bloody civil war.

McDonough said in an interview with NBC that “a lasting resolution in Syria is going to require Assad to leave" and that the U.S. could not accept Assad taking a role in a new Syrian government.

“The timing of that will be something that will be worked out in a political resolution. That’s how things like this get resolved,” McDonough said.

This story was updated at 12:38 p.m.