While world leaders were convening in New York at the United Nations General Assembly this week, a Russian official informed the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Wednesday morning that Russian military aircraft would begin flying anti-ISIL missions over Syria. He further requested that U.S. aircraft avoid Syrian airspace during these missions.
Later that morning, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry addressed the United Nations Security Council and reaffirmed that the U.S.-led coalition would continue to fly missions over Iraq and Syria as planned in support of our international mission to degrade and destroy ISIL.
Here are key points from his speech you need to know:
1. The U.S. supports cooperation against ISIL, but will not allow those efforts to be confused with support for Assad.
2. The U.S. and its coalition partners will continue strikes against ISIL.
3. The coalition air strikes are conducted within established military procedure and international law.
4. The coalition attacks against ISIL not only will continue, but will be dramatically increased.
5. ISIL cannot be defeated as long as Assad remains in power.
6. Russian arguments that we must support Assad to defeat ISIL do not align with Assad’s own military activity, which hasn’t targeted ISIL.
7. An alliance with Assad is not the answer, but an answer can be found through a broadly supported diplomatic initiative aimed at a negotiated political transition.
At the Pentagon, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter emphasized these points and expressed concern that the day’s Russian military strikes didn’t actually target ISIL at all, but instead targeted moderate opposition to Assad. He likened the strikes to “pouring gasoline on the fire.”
To read the full text from Secretary Kerry, click here.