ROME — The international war on ISIS is “making a difference” in Iraq and Syria but the terror group is resurgent in Libya and could seize that nation’s oil wealth, Secretary of State John Kerry warned Tuesday.
Kerry credited the deployment of U.S. Special Forces inside Syria, training programs for anti-ISIS fighters and upgraded intelligence for helping push ISIS back.
“We are surely not here to brag about anything... but our persistence, our unity, our concerted commitment from every different country in whichever way you are committed, is all making a difference," Kerry told ministers and officials from 23 countries at a conference in Rome.
He said the advances against ISIS have been “pretty remarkable" despite recent ISIS-inspired attacks in Turkey, Paris and San Bernardino, California.
“We’re not telling people we’re there yet but we are seeing that our concerted effort is moving in the right direction,” Kerry said.
Still, he warned there were signs that ISIS could regroup in other countries, “particularly Libya.”
He told his audience that it was essential that Libya’s new unity government maintains an edge over terrorists, especially given the country's resources.
"The last thing in the world you want is a false caliphate with access to billions of dollars of oil revenue," Kerry said.
He stressed the need to push "full speed ahead" in training security personnel and creating a "safe environment" for a government to stand up and operate.
"This is, I think, a major obligation for those countries — us among them — who were there at the very beginning when we felt compelled to protect the people... being slaughtered by the dictator of the country,” Kerry said.
At a later news conference, the secretary of state also called for efforts to reach a ceasefire in Syria in order to end human suffering — such as the starvation deaths in Madaya — and to weaken ISIS.
“This tactic to use famine as a weapon of war is illegitimate,” he said. “Do we want to defeat [ISIS] quickly? So let’s negotiate the end of the war in Syria as soon as possible. That would weaken [ISIS].”