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Defense Sec: Brussels Shows Need 'to Accelerate the Defeat' of Islamic State

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said the Brussels attacks indicate “the necessity to continue to accelerate the defeat of ISIL in Syria and Iraq, which we will do.”

Speaking to reporters en route to Washington, Carter was asked if anything changes in the U.S. strategy after ISIS stepped up its campaign of terror in Europe.

“We have been accelerating our campaign since well before the Paris attacks, but that — those attacks galvanized Europe to do more. And they have been doing a great deal more as well,” Carter said, adding “it also is a reminder that while I believe the military effort is essential, we must defeat and we will defeat ISIL in Iraq and Syria. That’s necessary but it’s not sufficient.”

“There’s going to continue to be a law enforcement, an intelligence and homeland security dimension to this campaign, and Brussels involving as it did citizens of that country is a reminder of that.”

The Defense secretary stressed that it’s “necessary to complete the military defeat of ISIL in Syria and Iraq because that’ll show that there’s no state, based on this kind of ideology, that is acceptable to their — rest of the civilized world, and we can’t have that in order to protect ourselves.”

“And that is the reason why we’re doing everything that we can wherever we find opportunities in Iraq and Syria to hasten the defeat of ISIL.”

That includes, he said, “capable local forces that we can enable, because we know that we need not only to defeat ISIL, we need to keep them defeated.”

“And that means that there need to be local forces that participate. That’s the strategic approach,” Carter added. “And we’re doing a lot to accelerate it, and we’ll do more. And every day, we’re fighting more and taking advantage of every opportunity we have.”

Before meeting with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow today, Secretary of State John Kerry said the Brussels attacks “underscore to all of us the urgency of every country that has the ability to make a difference to end this evil scourge that comes from Daesh and violent extremism.”