DOD: ISIS Threat Not Eliminated, But 'We Certainly Put a Hurting on Them'

August 15, 2014 - 5:41 AM


An undated photo posted on a militant website in January 2014 shows the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant fighters. (AP Photo, File)

( - “ISIL continues to pose a threat…to U.S. personnel and facilities in Iraq,” a Pentagon spokesman said on Thursday. But, he added, “We certainly put a hurting on them with respect to their activities in and around Erbil. And we'll continue to do that as needed."

Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters that of the 25 U.S. airstrikes conducted so far, about half of them have been aimed at ISIL targets in and around Erbil, to protect U.S. personnel and facilities; and the other half took place in and around Mt. Sinjar as part of the effort to rescue people stranded there.

“[W]hat I would tell you is, we still believe that Erbil faces threats from ISIL. It's just unclear exactly what their full intent is.”

Kirby said he wouldn’t speculate about future U.S. operations, but he noted that “we have the authority to conduct airstrikes to protect U.S. personnel and facilities anywhere in Iraq, including down in Baghdad.”

Kirby said the threat that ISIL poses inside Iraq is essentially an Iraqi threat to face.

“We stand by, and we're willing to help and to coordinate a little bit with them, but we're -- as the president said, we're not going to become the Iraqi air force. This is their fight to fight. We're willing to help to the degree we can.”

Although the refugee crisis on Mount Sinjar has abated, Kirby said no one is “breathing a sigh of relief” or “turning a blind eye to humanitarian suffering.”

“We’re still very mindful…that there may yet be humanitarian needs elsewhere in Iraq, and we're going to continue to review that and look at that.”

“It’s not over,” he added.

Kirby repeated the administration’s contention that the solution to Iraq’s security problems is an inclusive government “that's responsive to all its citizens.” A unity government “can alleviate some of the conditions that terrorists, like ISIL, prey upon, the joblessness, the hopelessness that -- that these extremists are able to capitalize on, to spread their warped ideology.”