Just days after the Paris terrorist attacks, Secretary of State John Kerry told a French TV network that “people don’t realize” just how much progress the coalition has made against the Islamic State.
Kerry sat down with France 2 when he was in Paris to meet with President Francois Hollande to discuss “the need to exchange every bit of information that we can, to cooperate in terms of targeting, to cooperate on our military efforts, and to lift our military efforts to do more.”
“I am convinced we have made progress. People don’t realize that. Daesh is now controlling 25 percent less territory,” he said, referring to Kurdish coalition offensives. “We have liberated Tikrit, liberated Baiji. We have liberated Kobani. We have liberated other towns in Syria. We are now moving to put greater pressure on them and cut them off from Mosul to al-Raqqa.”
“And as a result, Daesh will feel more and more pressure over the course of these next weeks and months, and I think more people are prepared to enter the fight understanding the seriousness of what is happening with fighters spreading through the world. We have to end what is happening in Syria and Iraq as soon as possible.”
Asked if the pace and intensity of the bombing runs over the Islamic State would remain the same, Kerry replied “that always depends sort of on the targeting to some degree, but the answer is predominately yes.”
“We conducted some strikes in the last couple of days which took out 161 oil trucks, which is how Daesh is getting its money. It’s smuggling oil across the borders into Iraq, into Turkey, and it provides a very significant amount of money. Well, we’re going after that now,” Kerry declared, using the Arabic pejorative acronym for ISIS.
“And I think with an increased pace, Daesh is going to find it much harder to try to do the things that it’s been doing. It doesn’t mean they won’t have the ability, unfortunately, to encourage some deranged, alienated person somewhere to go kill themselves and, unfortunately, kill other people when they do.”
Kerry added that the “difficulty in counterterrorism is the terrorist just has to be effective or good once, and if someone wants to kill themselves, they can kill other people.”
“We, in law enforcement, in counterintelligence, in all of our military efforts to stop them, have to be effective every single day, 365 days a year,” he said. “We’ve been pretty effective at that since 9/11, but we will not be able to stop every incident until we stamp out the headquarters, the leaders, down through the fighting ranks, and make it clear the world is not going to tolerate this kind of activity, this kind of disruption.”
Kerry was back at the State Department today for a strategic dialogue with the foreign minister of Angola.