Iraq’s international partners vowed Tuesday to remain united in the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, as Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi called for more support for his nation’s forces.
Members of the U.S.-led international coalition against ISIS met for the conference in Paris against a backdrop of recent gains for ISIS in Anbar province, where the militant group seized the key city of Ramadi last month.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry took part from Boston, where he is receiving treatment after a cycling accident, but was represented in Paris by U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken.
Blinken, speaking alongside al-Abadi and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, argued that Iraq and its partners were making progress against ISIS and that the current strategy was working “militarily and politically.”
“We have made real gains in the nine months since this coalition came together,” he said. “Daesh controls 25% less territory than it did when this first came together and it has lost significant numbers of men and material and we have proof of concept that what we’re doing works, around al-Asad, where we’re present, and in the north with the Kurdish forces.”
Hundreds of U.S. service members are based at Ayn al-Asad airbase in Anbar province, where they are helping to train Iraqi pilots in the fight against ISIS.
Daesh is another name for ISIS that is widely used by European and Arab allies and is despised by the terrorist group.
Kerry: ISIS ‘no more a state than a helicopter’
Speaking via telephone to the summit, Kerry forcefully pushed back against any notion that ISIS is a state, despite the group’s broad territorial gains.
He also spoke about the need to “maintain momentum in the battle of ideas,” according to excerpts from the call provided by the State Department.
“One way is to expose at every opportunity the false nature of Daesh’s claim to be ‘the’ Islamic State. In reality, Daesh is no more a state than I am a helicopter,” Kerry said.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said the talks had enabled the partners to reaffirm their “unity and common determination” to beat back ISIS.
“This fight is a long-term fight — there have been advances, but there can also be reversals,” he said.
Iraqi PM urges more support
Al-Abadi, who presented a plan for the recapture of Ramadi, called for the international community to take practical action to support Iraqi forces, saying: “We have to face Daesh not only from Iraq, but from all different regions of the world.”
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SOURCE: CNN – Laura Smith-Spark