KONFRONTASI - Secretary of State John Kerry says US-led airstrikes have inflicted “significant” damage on the ISIL terrorist organization in Iraq and Syria, pledging the campaign would go on “for as long as it takes.”
Meeting with representatives of more than 60 nations contributing to the anti-ISIL coalition, the top US diplomat said the terrorist group has lost some ground in Iraq and its command facilities and oil infrastructure have been degraded in Syria.
Two months of air strikes have “reduced Daesh's leadership and inflicted damage on its logistical and operational capabilities,” Kerry said in Brussels on Wednesday, using an Arabic acronym to describe ISIL.
“No large Daesh unit can move forward aggressively without worrying about what will come down on it from the skies.”
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization headquarters in Brussels is hosting foreign ministers of the countries comprising the anti-ISIL coalition.
The representatives are reviewing the military strategy against ISIL and how to stem the flow of foreign fighters to Iraq and Syria.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said the US-led airstrikes against the ISIL group have failed to change the dynamic on the ground.
“To say that the coalition’s airstrikes are helping us is incorrect,” he said in an interview with Paris Match magazine to be published on Thursday.
“Had these strikes been serious and effective, I would say they would be helpful for sure, but it’s we who are battling against ISIS (ISIL) on the ground,” Assad contended.
US President Barack Obama first ordered airstrikes against ISIL targets in September, using Syrian airspace. The air campaign is an extension of air raids in Iraq conducted since August.
Obama has also authorized the Pentagon and the CIA to begin arming and training “moderate” militants in a coordinated effort with Syria’s regional neighbors, Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
The ISIL terrorists, who were initially trained by the CIA in Jordan in 2012 to destabilize the Syrian government, now control large parts of Iraq and Syria.[ptv]