John Kerry has put forward the case for why he believes the US must fight the "Islamic State." Earlier, President Barack Obama told soldiers that he would not send them into ground combat against the group.
Addressing a US congressional panel on Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry said that the country must engage with the international community against the "Islamic State" (IS), a group he called "cold-blooded killers making a mockery of a peaceful religion." Kerry was met with protests led by Code Pink, a group that opposes US involvement in foreign wars.
"The invasion was ISIL into Iraq," Kerry said, indirectly addressing the protesters by using an alternate acronym for the group's former name: the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. "The invasion was foreign fighters into Syria." He added: "ISIL must be defeated. Period. End of story."
Last week, US President Barack Obama authorized US strikes in Syria, where IS fighters have established themselves during the country's three-year civil war. The United States has worked to build a broad international coalition to take on IS.
Kerry said that US troops would only act in support of Iraq's military in the fight against IS and would not directly engage the group in ground combat. The secretary of state's comments stayed close to those made earlier Wednesday by Obama, who had said that more than 40 countries would help to battle the group.
"The United States will not go it alone," Kerry said. "That has been a fundamental principle upon which President Obama has sought to organize this effort."
Earlier Wednesday, Obama had told US troops that "this is not and will not be America's fight alone." Promising the soldiers that "we're going to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL," Obama also promised them that, "as your commander-in-chief, I will not commit you and the rest of our armed forces to fighting another war in Iraq."
Kerry also said that "US ground troops will not be sent into combat." The secretary of state predicted that soldiers "will support Iraq forces on the ground as they fight for their country against these terrorists."
Earlier Wednesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel received assurances in Berlin from the Emir of Qatar that his country did not support militant groups such as IS. The meeting came amid reports that German citizens had carried out suicide attacks on behalf of IS in Iraq.
mkg/rc (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)