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Staying the Course Against ISIL

FILE - Helicopters fly from the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt in the Gulf of Oman.

The fight against ISIL will be long, but if the coalition remains united, determined, and focused, it will ultimately succeed.

The fight against ISIL will be long, but if the coalition remains united, determined, and focused, it will ultimately succeed, said U.S. Undersecretary of State Anthony Blinken.

Staying the Course Against ISIL
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Some gains have been achieved in the last nine months since the coalition has come together. ISIL now controls 25 percent less territory in Iraq than it did when the fighting first started. And ISIL has lost significant numbers of men and materiel.

At the same, the coalition partners acknowledge that ISIL remains resilient, ruthless, and capable of taking the initiative, as they did in the capture of Ramadi.

“We have to learn from and act on [such] setbacks,” said Under Secretary Blinken. “In Iraq right now, we have the right strategy; a combination of coalition airstrikes; training, equipping, assisting; and effective local partners.”

As for Iraq’s part, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi has laid out an effective military and political action plan for his country. It calls for accelerating the training and equipping of local tribes in coordination with Anbar authorities, streamlining the provision of weapons, expanding recruitment into the Iraqi army, recalling and refitting the local police, supporting a development fund for stabilization to get immediate assistance to areas that are cleared of ISIL, and ensuring that all forces in Iraq act under Iraqi command, a critical element of the plan to ensure accountability and unified approach in the fight against ISIL.

One immediate step that the U.S. is taking is to ship anti-tank rockets for use against the kind of suicide vehicles that were deployed in Ramadi to such terrible effect.

Also, the U.S. is doing all it can to aid the region’s millions of refugees and displaced persons from both Syria and Iraq. The United States has provided $3.7 billion in humanitarian aid to those affected by the war in Syria, and since the start of fiscal year 2014, more than $407 million for displaced Iraqis.

The U.S. and its coalition partners remain determined to defeat ISIL ultimately creating a future of opportunity and peace for people in Iraq, in Syria, and indeed in the entire region.