STATE DEPARTMENT —
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says Islamic State (IS) fighters in Iraq and Syria are losing momentum in the face of coalition airstrikes against them. The militants, who also are known as ISIL, have beheaded a fifth Westerner, and warned that a U.S. soldiers will meet a similar fate.
Kerry said that, overall, the international campaign against ISIL has begun to have a “significant impact.”
“The momentum that ISIL built up during the summer has dissipated. It continues, yes, to commit terrible crimes," said Kerry. "But it has also been forced to relinquish bases, abandon training sites, alter its mode of communications, disperse personnel, and stop the use of large convoys.”
U.S. support, training
President Barack Obama launched that campaign in September after the group expanded its control of territory in Iraq.
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Washington is accelerating its training and advising mission in Iraq with special operations forces in early missions with Iraqi troops in the volatile Anbar province.
Speaking to foreign policy leaders Monday in Washington, Kerry said Islamic State influence left unchecked could inspire broader violence beyond the Middle East.
“The dysfunction of some governments in the region has enabled these killers to seize control of more land and more resources than al-Qaida ever had on the best day of existence,” he said.
Kerry said atrocities committed by Islamic State militants have helped build the coalition against them, acting as a force multiplier. "Governments that can not agree on almost anything else agree on the imperative of confronting and defeating” Islamic State, said Kerry.
“Where once there was suspicion and discord, we now see the Saudi foreign minister link arms with Iraq’s Kurdish and Shia leaders. We see the government of Turkey agree to allow Kurdish fighters to cross its border and take on ISIL. We see the multi-confessional leadership of Lebanon jointly resisting armed incursions into their territory.”
Islamic State militants beheaded U.S. aid worker Abdul-Rahman Kassig, who was captured in eastern Syria in October 2013 while delivering relief supplies for Special Emergency Relief and Assistance, the aid group he founded.
As with earlier beheading videos, the one released Sunday features a militant speaking in a British accent. He said the militants are burying the "first American crusader" in the northern Syrian town of Dabig, and warned U.S. soldiers will meet a similar fate.