US Tells Allies to Do More Amid New Offensive Against ISIS | NBC4 Washington
National & International News
The day’s top national and international news

US Tells Allies to Do More Amid New Offensive Against ISIS

Under Trump, there has been a slight uptick in US military involvement, with 400 additional Marines sent to the region in Iraq this month

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    US Tells Allies to Do More Amid New Offensive Against ISIS
    AP
    Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks at the Meeting of the Ministers of the Global Coalition on the Defeat of ISIS, Wednesday, March 22, 2017, at the State Department in Washington. Top officials from the 68-nation coalition fighting the Islamic State group are looking to increase pressure on the group as U.S.-backed forces move closer to retaking Mosul.

    Declaring the ISIS's destruction its top Middle East priority, the Trump administration on Wednesday urged coalition partners to contribute more to forces who are retaking Iraq's second largest city and readying an assault on the extremists' self-declared Syrian capital. There was no apparent announcement of a new overall strategy, however.

    Addressing top diplomats of the 68-nation coalition, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called for new ideas to expand the fight against ISIS in the Iraqi city of Mosul and accelerate the campaign to chase militants from Raqqa, Syria, while preparing for the complex humanitarian and political consequences of both efforts.

    Yet Tillerson did not propose, at least in his public remarks, a new approach, beyond noting the increased U.S. military role in each country. As the officials were meeting at the State Department in Washington, the Pentagon announced that it provided an airlift for Syrian fighters taking part in an offensive west of Raqqa, in an escalation of U.S. involvement. At least one country participating in the meeting, France, voiced frustration that Tillerson and other U.S. officials had not offered specifics.

    "I recognize there are many pressing challenges in the Middle East, but defeating ISIS is the United States number one goal in the region," Tillerson said. "As we've said before, when everything is a priority, nothing is a priority. We must continue to keep our focus on the most urgent matter at hand."

    Senate Health Bill Revised Again in Face of Opposition

    [NATL] Senate Health Bill Revised Again in Face of Opposition

    Facing a self-imposed deadline to vote on a health care legislation before the July 4th recess, Senate Republicans find themselves scraping for enough votes to pass their version of the bill. Republican leaders on Monday revised portions of the bill aimed at deterring people from dropping health insurance.

    (Published Monday, June 26, 2017)

    Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Ababi said victory was finally within reach.

    "We are at the stage of completely decimating Daesh," al-Abadi said, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.

    Nothing Tillerson outlined departed significantly from the Obama administration's strategy, which focused on using local forces to retake territory along with efforts to disrupt ISIS recruitment and financing, and the blueprint of the multilateral effort seemed unchanged.

    French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said he was disappointed the U.S. hasn't outlined a more detailed plan, particularly for Raqqa's future. He said he understood Trump's administration was still formulating policy, explaining that he will be more concerned if decisions aren't made before the end of April.

    "We are expecting some further clarity from the U.S.," he told reporters, citing France's desire for the city to be run by moderate opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad and not the country's Russian-backed government. He also wants to hear what America seeks from U.N.-led talks on a broader political settlement to the six-year civil war between Assad's military and various rebel groups.

    Tactics for fighting the ISIS are complicated in Syria, where a partnership with Kurdish militants has prompted difficult discussions with Turkey, which sees them as a national security threat. The Pentagon made clear that in Wednesday's offensive near Raqqa, U.S. forces were still in a support role.

    Supreme Court Reinstates Much of Trump’s Travel Ban

    [NATL] Supreme Court Reinstates Much of Trump’s Travel Ban

    The Supreme Court reinstated parts of President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban and announced it will hear arguments on the case in October.

    (Published Monday, June 26, 2017)

    Tillerson said the United States would play its part and pay its fair share of the overall operation. But he said other nations, particularly those which have faced ISIS or ISIS-inspired attacks, must contribute more militarily or financially.

    He said increased intelligence and information sharing could overcome traditional rivalries between different agencies and governments, and advocated an enhanced online effort to halt the spread of extremist views, especially as ISIS loses ground in Iraq and Syria.

    Although Tillerson alluded to the intensified campaign, he said the Trump administration was still refining its strategy. As a candidate, Trump spoke broadly about radical changes to the approach adopted by then-President Barack Obama. As a president, Trump has moved more cautiously.

    "A more defined course of action in Syria is still coming together," Tillerson said. "But I can say that the United States will increase our pressure on ISIS and al-Qaeda and will work to establish interim zones of stability, through cease-fires, to allow refugees to return home."

    The reference to "zones of stability" appeared to stop short of "safe zones," which the U.S. military has been extremely reluctant to commit to enforcing in Syria, even as Trump and others have raised the idea at various times.

    In an interview with The Associated Press, Hungary's foreign minister said he liked what he heard.

    Senate Struggles With Health Care as Trump Signs VA Bill

    [NATL] Senate Struggles With Health Care Reform as Trump Signs VA Bill

    Just one day after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., released details of the Senate revised health care bill, five conservative senators expressed dissent with the current language of the bill. President Donald Trump, meanwhile, signed a law that makes it easier for the Department of Veteran Affairs to fire employees as part of a push for an agency overhaul. 

    (Published Friday, June 23, 2017)

    "We are enthusiastic about the new U.S. strategy," Peter Szijjarto said, adding that he saw Trump's administration determined "not only to fight against ISIS, but totally eliminate ISIS." He said his country would send 50 more soldiers to Iraq, taking its contribution to 200.

    As the militants become more encircled, the mission will change. Officials expect in the coming months to see the dissipation of surviving fighters into underground cells that could plan and mount attacks throughout the Middle East, South and Central Asia, Europe, South America and the United States. Washington has been trying to get NATO, coalition and other partners to take actions to adapt to changing threats.

    "As we stabilize areas encompassing ISIS's physical caliphate in Iraq and Syria, we also must prevent their seeds of hatred from taking root elsewhere," Tillerson said. "We must ensure ISIS cannot gain or maintain footholds in new regions of the world. We must fight ISIS online as aggressively as we would on the ground. A digital caliphate must not flourish in the place of a physical one."