US Secretary of State John Kerry is leaving Washington on Tuesday for the Middle East in an effort to form an international coalition to battle the ISIL terrorist group, which is operating in Iraq and Syria.
According to the US State Department, Kerry will travel first to Jordan and then onto Saudi Arabia to seek their help to “degrade and destroy” the ISIL terrorists, who were initially trained by the CIA in Jordan in 2012 to destabilize the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Syria has been gripped by deadly unrest since March 2011. According to reports, the United States and its regional allies – especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey – are supporting the militants operating inside the country.
The militants control large parts of Syria’s northern territory. ISIL sent its fighters into neighboring Iraq in June, quickly seizing large swaths of land straddling the border between the two countries.
The top US diplomat will “consult with key partners and allies on how to further support the security and stability of the Iraqi government, combat the threat posed by ISIL and confront Middle East security challenges,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Monday.
“The focus will be on multiple lines of effort, including military support to our Iraqi partners, stopping the flow of foreign fighters, countering ISIL financing and funding, addressing humanitarian crises and delegitimizing ISIL’s ideology,” she added.
Last week, Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told foreign and defense ministers participating in a NATO summit in Wales that the US was forming a broad international coalition against ISIL.
“We need to attack them in ways that prevent them from taking over territory, to bolster the Iraqi security forces and others in the region who are prepared to take them on, without committing troops of our own,” Kerry told the meeting. “Obviously I think that’s a red line for everybody here: no boots on the ground.”
“We have the technology, we have the know-how,” Kerry said. “What we need is obviously the willpower to make sure that we are steady and stay at this.”
Ministers from the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Canada, Australia, Turkey, Italy, Poland and Denmark met in Wales to hammer out a strategy for battling ISIL.
According to the White House, the terrorist group recently beheaded American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff in Syria. Foley was reportedly killed last month, and Sotloff was executed early this month.
Former US intelligence official Scott Rickard says Washington is using the “beheadings” of the “journalists” by ISIL to “sway public opinion” in favor of another war in the Middle East.