Hagel: Defeating ISIL is
By Nick Simeone, DoD News,
Defense Media Activity.
Washington D.C. – (DoD
News) – September 26, 2014 – Defeating the Islamic State in Iraq and the
Levant will require a long-term commitment by the United States and its allies
on many fronts and will not be achieved by airstrikes alone, Defense Secretary
Chuck Hagel told reporters today.
“This will not be an easy or brief effort,” Hagel said at a
Pentagon news conference, where he took questions alongside Army Gen. Martin E.
Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“We are at the beginning, not the end” of efforts to degrade
and destroy ISIL, Hagel said.
Since August, the United States along with France have
carried out more than 200 airstrikes against terrorist targets in Iraq. The
impact of more than 40 airstrikes conducted by the U.S.-led coalition in Syria
this week -- including against a little known group of al-Qaida veterans called
Khorasan which U.S. officials say was plotting attacks against the United States
and its allies -- is still being assessed.
The air attacks to deny ISIL freedom of movement are just one
element of a strategy announced by President Barack Obama earlier this month to
defeat the group, which has declared a caliphate spanning the Iraqi-Syrian
border, threatening minority groups and non-adherents while forcing hundreds of
thousands of people to flee.
“No one is under any illusions that airstrikes alone will
destroy ISIL,” Hagel said. He also emphasized that the strategy must include
diplomatic, economic and intelligence components along with cooperation from the
new Iraqi government, and “will require a long term commitment from the United
States and all of our partners and allies.”
The key to the strategy in Syria will be training and
equipping moderate Syrian opposition forces to take on the battle against ISIL
on the ground. Hagel said U.S. military assessment teams have arrived in Saudi
Arabia where Syrian fighters are set to be trained. Congress has approved $500
million in funds to train Syrian opposition forces but the Defense Department
has said it could take up to a year before the first vetted Syrian rebels are
sent into battle.
(Follow Nick Simeone on Twitter: @simeoneDoDNews)
Special Report: Targeted Operations Against ISIL Terrorists in Iraq
The Defense Department on Facebook
The Defense Department on Twitter
DoD News on Facebook
DoD News on Twitter
Anti-ISIL Campaign Will Take Time, Dempsey Says