US says fight against Islamic State could take years

World Today

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, right, hits the gavel as he presides a meeting as Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, center, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg attend the round table meeting of the global coalition to counter the Islamic State militant group at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014. Kerry opened on Wednesday a high-level meeting at NATO headquarters of countries participating in the campaign against the Islamic State organization to assess what’s been accomplished and what remains to be done. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said international efforts to fight the extremist Islamist group known as ISIL have already degraded its ability to operate in Iraq and Syria, but the fight could take years. Meanwhile, Syria’s president said the U.S-led airstrikes have made no difference. CCTV America’s Jack Barton reported this story from NATO’s headquarters in Brussels.

US says fight against Islamic State could take years

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said international efforts to fight the extremist Islamist group known as ISIL have already degraded its ability to operate in Iraq and Syria, but the fight could take years. Meanwhile, Syria's president said the U.S.led airstrikes have made no difference. CCTV America's Jack Barton reported this story from NATO’s headquarters in Brussels.

Officials from more than 60 countries that have formed a coalition to fight the Islamic extremist group known as ISIL met in Brussels on Wednesday. The meeting was chaired by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who said the group known as Daesh in Arabic had been greatly weakened by more than 1000 coalition airstrikes.

“It is much harder now, than when we started, for Daesh to assemble forces in strength, to travel in convoys and to launch concerted attacks,” Kerry said. He added that American assistance mission in Iraq would be expanded.

“In coming weeks the coalition’s ‘train, advise and assist ‘ missions for Iraqi security forces will expand, air strikes will continue as necessary. Step by step, Iraqis are mobilizing to reclaim the land they have lost, and the prime minister will attest to develop the kind of broadly representative government they must have in order to succeed,” he said.

On reports that Iran had also begun airstrikes, Kerry only said, that was a matter for Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. The Iraqi PM was also at Wednesday’s meeting and said that he had no knowledge of military action in his country by Tehran. But Haider al-Abadi did say his country is set to formally request assistance from NATO.

As the focus of international efforts to combat the Islamist militants shifts from the air to the ground, NATO has been examining how it can potentially bolster Iraq’s security forces. Ministers conceded that the fight against ISIL could take years. However, Kerry pledged that fight would continue for as long as it takes.

The coalition also discussed how to stem the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq and Syria as well as how to counter what has become a powerful ISIL brand that has drawn thousands of jihadists from Western countries, partly through the use of social media.

Under an agreement issued by the coalition Wednesday, foreign ministers representing coalition nations will meet at least every six months in what all agree will be a years-long campaign against the Islamic State. In addition to supporting the Iraqi government and urging access to humanitarian aid in Syria, it also called for greater help to countries in the region that have been saddled with millions of refugees from the battle zone.