Kerry: Iraq has regained 30 percent of territory from Daesh
Kerry says thousands of Daesh’s leaders have been removed from combat

Iraq has recaptured roughly a third of its territory from Daesh, also known as ISIL, Secretary of StateJohn Kerry said Tuesday.

"Approximately 30 percent of the territory that had been gained by ISIL has now been restored to Iraqi hands, and we are training the Iraqis and preparing for the moment where they can do more,” America’s top diplomat said in testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee.

His comments come as the extremists face mounting pressure from a U.S.-led coalition that has mounted an air campaign against the group in Iraq and Syria while building up local military forces capable of fighting the militants themselves.

Kerry said "thousands” of Daesh’s leaders "have been taken off the battlefield” as part of the coalition’s efforts to beat back and ultimately destroy the extremists.

In Kobani alone, the group lost up to 1,000 fighters as it sought to wrest control of the border town from Kurdish defenders, Kerry said.

"We came in with very significant strikes, but more importantly, we came in and diplomatically worked with the Turks and with the Kurds, and made it possible for peshmerga to be able to pass through a corridor and come into Kobani and reinforce it," he said. "And by continuing the strikes and joining in that effort, ISIL ultimately had to admit, it lost. They were defeated."

His testimony follows the Obama administration's request for congressional authorization that would directly provide the authority to go after Daesh.

Kerry said the authorization for use of military force is an opportunity to show bipartisan support in the fight, and that the administration doesn’t want to see the authorization get bogged down in individuals’ concerns about what powers the president should have.

"What we want is as large a vote as possible for Congress to say Daesh deserves to be defeated, and we're committed to the fight,” he said.

Asked by Senate Foreign Relations Committee lawmakers about the language of a draft resolution that President Barack Obama sent to Congress, Kerry said there was "no way" for the text to be used to justify long-term wars.

"This is a pretty straightforward prohibition without curtailing exigencies and leaving that sufficient level of fuzz that the other side can't decide, 'Oh, we got a safe haven here. We can do whatever we want,'" he said. "Rest assured, there is, in our judgment, no way possible for this language to be misinterpreted and allow a kind of mission creep that takes us into a long-term war."

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Last Modified: 2015-02-25 10:11:59
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