Kerry urges flexibility in war against ISIS

The U.S. Secretary of State has asked for the possibility to deploy combat troops against the militant group if needed

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Any congressional authorization of U.S. military force against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) should be flexible and not limit the fight to Iraq and Syria, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday.

The authorization should also not restrict U.S. President Barack Obama in deploying combat troops against the militant group if needed, Kerry told a Senate committee debating the need for an Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF).

“We do not think an AUMF should include a geographic limitation,” Kerry said, “We don't anticipate conducting operations in countries other than Iraq and Syria, but to the extent that ISIS poses a threat to American interests and personnel in other countries, we would not want an AUMF to constrain our ability to use appropriate force against ISIS in those locations if necessary.

“In our view, it would be a mistake to advertise to ISIS that there are safe havens for them outside Iraq or Syria,” Kerry added.

“The president has been crystal clear that his policy is that U.S. military forces will not be deployed to conduct ground combat operations against ISIS; that will be the responsibility of local forces,” Kerry said.

Kerry also told the committee that the administration supported a proposal by Senator Robert Menendez to grant new war powers for a period of three years to avoid an open-ended authorization.

“We support that proposal subject to a provision we should work through together that provides for an extension in the event that circumstances require it, and we think it should be advertised up front,” Kerry added.

He said it was important that the new authorization had bipartisan support “that makes clear this is not one party's fight.”

Kerry has cautioned that while a U.S.-led coalition was starting to inflict damage on ISIS, carrying out around 1,050 air strikes in Iraq and Syria, the fight could take years.

[With Reuters]

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