Kerry: ISIL operation is 'war' - POLITICO.com - Liar Liar!
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Kerry: ISIL operation is 'war' - POLITICO.com

Secretary of State John Kerry is walking back his recent characterization of American action against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant as a “counterterrorism” operation, saying in an interview aired Sunday that it's a “war.”

“In terms of Al Qaeda, which we have used the word 'war' with, yeah...we are at war with Al Qaeda and its affiliates,” Kerry said on CBS’s “Face the Nation." “And in the same context if you want to use it, yes, we are at war with ISIL in that sense. But I think it's waste of time to focus on that. Frankly, let’s consider what we have to do to degrade and defeat ISIL and that’s what I’m frankly much more focused on."

Last week, Kerry pushed back on the use of the word “war” to describe the airstrikes and other efforts the United States is taking in the Middle East.The Obama administration is seeking to “degrade, and ultimately defeat” ISIL, a militant group that has claimed responsibility for the beheadings of two American journalists and a British aid worker.

“I think there's, frankly, a kind of tortured debate going on about terminology," he said.

In contrast to the war in Iraq, he said, this operation isn’t looking at “combat troops on the ground…It’s not that kind of mobilization.”

Kerry said "we have countries in this region, countries outside of this region...all of whom are prepared to engage in military assistance, in actual strikes, if that is what it requires," but said the U.S. is not "looking for" troops on the ground at this point in their broader conversations internationally. The administration has made it a point to find an international coalition to take on ISIL, while also stressing that there's not a need for American combat troops on the ground.

"People should not think about this effort just in terms of strikes," he said.

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