WASHINGTON, Dec. 15, 2016 —
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is failing, and the campaign to defeat the terror group in Iraq and Syria is on track, Defense Secretary Ash Carter and U.K. Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said in London today.
The two men addressed the media following a meeting of the counter-ISIL coalition.
“[ISIL] is now failing,” Fallon said. “It controls less than 10 percent of Iraq. It's lost more than a quarter of land it once held in Syria. Its supply of recruits has dried up and more than 25,000 [ISIL] fighters have now been killed.”
Indigenous forces are fighting the terror group in Mosul and are closing the vise around Raqqa -- the capital of ISIS’s so-called caliphate.
Carter said the counter-ISIL campaign plan is working. The strategy, he said, calls for destroying ISIL in Iraq and Syria, going after the group in other areas where it has metastasized and stopping its ability to conduct attacks like the ones that hit Paris, Brussels and San Bernardino, California.
Carter, Fallon and 13 other defense ministers reviewed the campaign plan and discussed ways to accelerate it during their meeting.
“Thanks to the determination and the courage of our local partners in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere, as well as the contributions made by service members from across our coalition and the leadership of the countries represented here today, our campaign has continually accelerated the execution of the campaign, simultaneously pressuring ISIL from all directions and across all domains,” Carter said.
The defense secretary said that many nations suggested ways to speed the campaign and many pledged additional resources -- including the United Kingdom.
It is not enough, Carter said, to defeat ISIL in Iraq and Syria. The group, he said, cannot be allowed to reconstitute itself.
“As ISIL attempts to relocate or reinvent itself, it’s critical to ensure the Iraqi security forces and our local partners in Syria have the training and enabling they need to continue to address this threat in whatever form it takes, so that they can provide lasting security long after ISIL is defeated,” the defense secretary said.
The military aspect must be accompanied by political, economic and diplomatic efforts in the region, he said.
Carter emphasized that putting indigenous forces in the lead in Iraq and Syria is working.
“As we look to the future of our campaign, there’s clear value in our strategic approach of enabling local forces to seize and hold territory rather than attempting to substitute for them,” he said.
“This approach has not only been effective -- it’s also sustainable, the defense secretary said. “And it will be necessary to continue this kind of cooperation with our local partners.”
The strategy not only wins the war, Carter said, but, “it also wins the peace.”
Carter said he will share lessons-learned with his successor.
“Among my recommendations will be the need for the United States to remain actively engaged as leader of this coalition to ensure that we deliver ISIL a lasting defeat and continue to protect our homelands,” the defense secretary said. “Our coalition can, and I’m confident we will, finish this job together.”
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