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Counter-ISIL Meetings Came At Critical Time, Carter Says

WASHINGTON, July 25, 2016 — Important initiatives to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant that evolved from last week’s counter-ISIL coalition meetings came at a critical time in light of recent events, Defense Secretary Ash Carter told reporters today.

While the motive in the July 22 shopping-mall shooting in Munich that left nine dead is not yet known, according to press reports, ISIL claimed responsibility for a weekend attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, the secretary said. Published reports said ISIL fighters claimed they bombed a protest march that killed more than 80 people and injured hundreds.

Carter emphasized both attacks serve as reminders of the threats overseas and in the American homeland. Carter and Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman expressed their condolences to the victims and families of both attacks in today’s news conference at the Pentagon.

Carter and Dunford said the U.S. resolve to stand with Germany is unshakeable. The secretary also said the U.S.-led coalition will “continue to do what we can to support the Afghan security forces as they take on the ISIL threat in that country,” adding, “We will take on ISIL cancer wherever it spreads.”

Three Focal Points

Last week’s counter-ISIL defense ministers meeting at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland focused on three objectives, Carter said: to destroy ISIL’s parent tumor in Iraq and Syria, to combat ISIL’s metastases as it emerges around the world, and most importantly, Carter said, to support “our government, law enforcement, homeland security and intelligence partners as they protect the homeland and our people.”

“We now have momentum in this fight and clear results on the ground in Iraq and Syria,” the secretary said, “and together, we made further plans and the additional commitments we’ll need to ensure our coalition delivers ISIL the lasting defeat it deserves.”

Opportunities Seized

Because of the partner nations’ sacrifices and increased contributions, Carter told reporters, “we’ve seized opportunities, reinforced gains and [have] taken the fight to the enemy.”

“But we are not going to rest,” he added. “We all share an enemy in ISIL, and we are in this fight together.”

The secretary said that in addition to intense dialogue at Andrews, he also met individually with his defense counterparts from France, Australia, Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

Before the defense ministers meeting and following the attempted coup in Turkey, Carter said, the Turkish defense minister assured him in a phone call that there would be no support interruptions in the collective campaign against ISIL. Carter told reporters he is pleased that coalition air operations are back on track at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey.

State Department Meeting

After the first joint counter-ISIL foreign and defense ministerial  meeting at the State Department, Carter and his defense counterparts met with Secretary of State John Kerry.

“All countries represented voiced their unwavering resolve to destroy the fact and the idea of an Islamic state based on ISIL's barbaric ideology,” Carter said.

 “The counter-ISIL coalition simply cannot allow our stabilization and governance efforts to lag behind our military progress,” he added. “We also know that defeating ISIL is more than a one-country, one-military or one-ministry job. We all have work to do, and we have to work together.”

Meetings to Accelerate ISIL’s Defeat

The meetings will help in the continuing acceleration of the military campaign against ISIL, Carter said, but he acknowledged that more hard work remains to be done.

(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)

Distribution channels: Military