John Kerry says he has a plan to defeat ISIS in 'a matter of months'

As western powers expand military interventions against the Islamic State, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that under the right conditions the militant group's defeat would be swift.

Jonathan Ernst/AP
US Secretary of State John Kerry, talks during the OSCE Ministerial Council meeting, in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday. Foreign Ministers attended the opening session at the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) summit in Belgrade on Thursday.

The United States and Britain this week said they would escalate military interventions against the Islamic State militant group, adding to a round of new actions from world superpowers against the militant group.

The US said it would send 100 ground troops to Iraq and Britain announced it would increase the number of airstrikes in the territory currently controlled by Islamic State forces, even as US Secretary of State John Kerry said a more ubiquitous effort would be needed.

The attacks on Paris last month have brought a new urgency to defeat the Islamic group, which has captured vast sections of territory across the Middle East, including parts of Syria and Iraq. France also began increasing the number of airstrikes during the last several weeks. Leaders of the US-led coalition of forces combatting the terrorist organization are increasingly adopting the view that the only way to defeat the Islamic State would be to take a multi-pronged and coordinated approach that includes not just airstrikes and ground troops, but diplomacy as well.

Several world leaders have called for a more concerted military campaign, including more ground troops and military strikes and support for roughly 70,000 opposition fighters in Syria.

“This will not be won completely from the air,” Mr. Kerry acknowledged at a international security meeting on Thursday.

But it could be “eliminated within a matter of months,” he added, if a cease-fire could be brokered between the Syrian government and the nation's moderate rebels. Kerry also urged world leaders to come together behind a unified peace plan for the two sides, which was first formed by the US and Russia.

Russia is Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s biggest international backer. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin recently sent Russian ground troops to the region in support of the embattled Syrian leader.

Kerry said a peace between the Syrian government and moderate fighters would allow the international community at large to defeat the Islamic State through military ventures. Kerry also called for Turkey and Russia to amend a rift over the downing of a Russian plane last month.

The US launched Operation Inherent Resolve on Nov. 15, forming a 17-country coalition against the Islamic State. 

This report contains material from Reuters.

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