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War of words over fight against Islamic State


Washington, Sep 13 :

Call it war, fight, battle or what you may – the Barack Obama administration seems to be warring within over what to call the impending military action against the Sunni terrorist group Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq.

John Kerry
John Kerry

US Secretary of State John Kerry would not call it war, but the White House and the Pentagon as the Defence Department is also called, aren’t shying away from the word, according to CNN.

On Wednesday night, Obama announced a plan to “dismantle and ultimately destroy” the terrorist group that his administration prefers to call ISIL, saying: “We will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are.”

But Kerry asserted in an interview with CNN in Jeddah that the US was not at war with IS and the administration’s strategy includes “many different things that one doesn’t think of normally in context of war”.

“What we are doing is engaging in a very significant counter-terrorism operation,” he was quoted as saying.

“If somebody wants to think about it as being a war with ISIL, they can do so, but the fact is it’s a major counterterrorism operation.”

Like her boss, State Department spokesperson Marie Harf too Thursday chose to call the action “a steady, relentless counter-terrorism campaign to take out ISIL wherever they exist.”

“This is not also America’s war with ISIL,” she was quoted as saying by CNN. “The world is joining us in the fight because of the threat they pose to countries in the regions.

“So we are at war with ISIL in the same way we are at war with Al Qaeda and its affiliates around the world.”

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest Friday said, “Ultimately, this international coalition will be responsible for degrading and destroying ISIL.

“So I think what you can conclude from this is the United States is at war with ISIL the same way that we are at war with Al Qaeda and Al Qaeda affiliates all around the globe,” he was cited as saying by CNN.

Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby had a similar take. The US is at war with ISIL “in the same way we’re at war and continue to be at war with Al Qaeda and its affiliates”, he said.