The White House declared Friday the United States was at war with Islamic State radicals, seeking to rub out another semantic flap over its Syria policy.
In a series of television interviews Secretary of State John Kerry had appeared to be reluctant to term the expansion of US operations against IS in Iraq and Syria as “war.”
But pressed to clear up doubts about how President Barack Obama sees the conflict, the White House and Pentagon left little doubt.
“The United States is at war with ISIL in the same way that we are at war with Al-Qaeda and its Al-Qaeda affiliates all around the globe,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.
Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said that the US was not fighting the last Iraq war and used similar language to Earnest.
“But make no mistake, we know we are at war with ISIL in the same way we’re at war and continue to be at war with Al-Qaida and its affiliates,” he said.
Obama is scheduled to be in Tampa, Florida Wednesday to receive a briefing from top commanders at US Central Command, which oversees American forces in the Middle East.
In interviews on Thursday, as Kerry toured the Middle East building an anti-IS coalition, he was reluctant to use the term “war” in referring to the US campaign, telling people not to indulge in “war fever.”
“We’re engaged in a major counterterrorism operation, and it’s going to be a long-term counterterrorism operation,” Kerry told CBS News.
“I think ‘war’ is the wrong terminology and analogy but the factis that we are engaged in a very significant global effort to curb terrorist activity,” Kerry said
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