John Kerry: ISIS Actions 'Show All the Warning Signs of Genocide'

U.S. launches airstrikes and drops humanitarian aid to hinder ISIS and assist stranded religious minorities.
27:18 | 08/08/14

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Transcript for John Kerry: ISIS Actions 'Show All the Warning Signs of Genocide'
I soles campaign of terror. Against the innocent. Including -- CD and Christian minority. And it's -- targeted acts of violence. Show all the warnings. -- -- Secretary of state John Kerry reaffirming the reason for today's airstrikes in Iraq by US forces as religious minorities. Are in extreme danger -- when I'm Dan Butler in New York two pronged approach in Iraq one military the other humanitarian. -- US air strike today targeting artillery weapons under the control highs this or I so often refer to the first military action though in Iraq by the US. Says the troop withdrawal. In 2011 the second approach. Effort in this an effort to -- -- humanitarian crisis has religious minorities are stranded on mountains hiding from the group. That is -- or -- so they are now just as the Islamic state today -- -- -- minute Terry in -- packages by air. An Iraqi -- providing some much needed food and water. I want to go to the White House now where white house Press Secretary Josh -- is -- report on the latest situation. To follow up an -- for years. The additional airstrikes today here over the weekend Nelson -- How long the president. -- described it that way because the president's. The authorization the president has been given for military action or has given. A for military action is very limited in scope. And was clearly described the remarks that he delivered last night. I don't have any operational updates to share with you in terms of additional military action. As you pointed out the Department of Defense -- confirmed this morning. That -- military strike was carried out in Iraq. And the so any additional updates will come directly from them. The Department of Defense does have a significant -- capability and will be prepared to use that capability in pursuit of the polls that the president articulated bus. What is messed up. Well there are two specific ways in which the president described development CIA chief would -- -- in three different lists the first is. And first and foremost is the protection of American personnel. There are American. Military and diplomatic officials in -- -- -- The artillery position that was maintained by IS IL that was struck by the American military early this morning East Coast time. Was focused on targets. That we're defending Kerviel. And that is why that struck that military strike was authorized and that is why it occurred. So the protection of American personnel in Iraq is a top priority. And one that. Merits the use military force at the second. Is related to this urgent humanitarian situation that exists it's in German home. There is a religious and ethnic minority. A population thousands of people men women and children -- were stranded at the top of this mountain. I as -- -- forces are -- at the base of the mountain vowing to kill those who dissent. And that is an urgent humanitarian situation. And the united states military last night upon the authorization the president carried out and -- successfully. An air drop of supplies food and water and some basic medical supplies. To those individuals who -- stranded on the mound to try to Irving. Provide some humanitarian relief the president has authorized military strikes it could be used to address that situation at the mountain. There are Kurdish security forces that are seeking to dislodge. That -- -- Germantown and if American military assets can be helpful in supporting Kurdish forces. Dan air strikes could be carried out in pursuit of that goal. The third is slightly broader. But it is related to. Our belief and commitment to supporting. Integrated Iraqi Security Forces encouraged security forces. As they unite the country to -- held a threat. That is posed by the ice will advance. What will be required for that of course is an integrated inclusive. -- political leadership in Iraq and it is why this this country stands ready to support. The formation of an inclusive. Government in Iraq. There have been significant. There has been significant progress on that front in the last few weeks there has been the appointment of a president. A speaker in two deputy speakers that reflect the diversity of Iraq's population. The head of government in Iraq however is the prime minister in the prime minister is not yet been selected that'll be the responsibility of the Iraqi People once that government has formed. We would anticipate and we will certainly be continuing to urge that government pursue an inclusive governing agenda that they can unite the country. To confront the threat that's posed by IS IL and United States stands ready to support. The formation of that government and -- government's efforts to repel. The advance of -- lifestyle. And that includes where necessary the deployment of military force it will not include however. The additional American. Combat troops being deployed to Iraq. Situation. What is being. The strategy right now is to try to meet the basic and immediate humanitarian needs of those who are trapped in these. Pretty terrible conditions. That is what prompted the airdrop of supplies that occurred overnight. The second prong in that strategy is the president described it in his remarks last night. Is. The possibility of targeted. Military strikes that could dislodge. The Beisel forces that are carrying out the siege that -- That would be in support of Kurdish security forces that are also trying to. -- disrupt that siege so we will be acting in support of Kurdish forces -- -- trying to. Trying to free of those who cut the top of the mountain but again this is. What is not contemplated here is the introduction. American troops in combat role to alleviate the situation. In this sense. Moment. Good news. Allies to join us. And out of position -- -- any additional presidential phone calls right now if the president places. Additional phone calls that we can read out we'll try to do that in a timely fashion today. A the president has met with members his national security team to get an overnight update about the situation. An Iraqi was of course as you would expect. Briefed on the military strike that was carried out -- this morning East Coast time. And the president will stay in close touch with his national security team over the course of -- -- That he can be updated as. Necessary. Look at our thanks Josh so as we've seen. -- I think its rightful make gains in recent weeks. The United States defend military advisors and the president must I think actually -- You and you said that there's no military solution to this. And that the -- contracted school. What is to stop that from happening and what is to stop the Islamic state forces from advancing further Iraq. Well let me try to take that -- -- a couple of different questions -- from a -- take those individually. The first one and this is I think in some ways has the most important thing the American people understand. And the president said this very clearly has remarks last night and -- to happen here. -- -- just to feel one children per second repeat them as commander in chief the president said I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq. And so even as we support Iraqis as they take the fight to these terrorists. American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq. So that as a pretty clear expression from the commander in chief about what our intentions are and what the limit. At any sort of military action would be and that is a clear denunciation of the kind of principle that's at stake here which is this belief. That there are many challenges facing the people of Iraq right now. And it's the view -- the president that the those challenges cannot be solved by the American military. They can only be solved through an inclusive. Government. Of the people of Iraq and they've made progress in trying to form that government. And we are hopeful that once that government is formed that they will pursue the kind of inclusive governing agenda that's required to unite that country in the face of the threat today. That exists in the country right now. If there is a role for the American military to play in supporting. The Iraqi people and that inclusive government and an integrated security force that is capable of defending the country -- -- Then I will use that American military prowess. In pursuit of that goal as well it is after all in the clear national security interest of the United States. For there to be a stable. Iraqi Government that can preside over a stable Iraq and a security force that has necessary capability. Two. Address. The security situation in the country these are all difficult challenges and I don't mean to minimize them but. You know we have. A very clear point of view. That's based on our recent experience. About the limits of American involvement. In that kind of in -- And what that means is. This is a situation. That is a very difficult challenge but it's not a challenge that can be solved. By the American military their support they can be provided by -- -- that the American military but this is situation it will only be solved by the Iraqi People. And -- government that reflects the views of Iraq's diverse population. -- belief -- hope that the actions that he authorized yesterday effectively will -- time. That the Iraqis -- will -- government and there defense forces -- crisis. Well I don't think it would describe it that way and I don't think the president did either I think what you what I would do -- are the primary goal of the mission at the president authorized last night -- the protection of American personnel who -- in Iraq. The president authorized note military action to try to address an urgent. Even dire humanitarian situations and Paramount. And more generally a a willingness on the part of the American people to continue to stand with the people of Iraq as they pursue. A future that is reflective. These diverse population of the nation of Iraq and that future is under grave threat. By Beisel extremists who are making advances across that country. And our desire and it is -- clear interest of American national security. For us to support the Iraqi People as they confront that threat. But again this is a threat that we cannot confront for them it is a threat they can only be met and defeated. By a unified. Iraq. In support of an integrated capable Iraq security force. If that requires the support. The American military. That is support that we're ready to offer but will not offered in the form of a prolonged military conflict. That involves the United States of America and it will not involve. American troops returning tour. Can come -- -- President Obama now the fourth US president and the road to engage in military action in Iraq he ran for president on -- platform. Ending the war in Iraq was he reluctant to make this. Since it. Jim I think the president was determined. To use military action. To protect American personnel who are in harm's way Iraq. He was determined to use American. Military assets to try to addressing urgent humanitarian situation. And the president is -- is determined to make sure that the United States is not dragged back into a prolonged military conflict for a just -- Given the fact that you ended the war in Iraq that maybe. This might be a good idea I think the president on numerous occasions has. Simply demonstrated his commitment. To using American military. Might to protect American people all around the globe that was evident last night that's been evident in other situations as well. But that hasn't changed. But what's also evident is the president's determination to ensure that the United States is not dragged back into a prolonged military conflict in Iraq. And let me ask you about something that -- -- back injury he told The New Yorker. When assessing the diocese -- He says he analogies used around here sometimes and I think is accurate -- the JV team puts on Laker uniforms that doesn't make them Kobe Bryant. Is it safe to say that crisis. There are no longer JB's. Well I think what is appropriate to say is that there is no question. That the -- Laker uniforms that were warned to use that analogy a little. To -- that analogy a little bit. There were warned by the al-Qaeda leadership and Afghanistan. Has been decimated and defeated in Afghanistan there's no question about that and that is the result. The many decisions are made by the president. And the courageous. Service of our men and women in uniform and our men and women and the intelligence agencies. What is also true is that there are other organizations that subscribe. To. Be violent extremist ideology that's -- and promulgated by al-Qaeda. Many of those groups. In nations across the globe. -- not particularly sophisticated. Are focused on local sectarian conflicts. -- don't pose a significant or immediate threat. Two US interest. Or the US home you know that your -- forced him to finish there are of course a couple of other organizations. That do pose a more substantial threat to the United States and our interests. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is -- -- and you've seen the United States in concert with our allies and partners. Take significant steps important steps to mitigate the threat -- posed. By those organizations that do have designs and some capability to try to strike the United States and in some cases even try to strike the homeland. We do remain concerned about the military proficiency that's been demonstrated by -- -- sale and it's why you've seen the president take steps. Including the authorization of military force. That would. Protect. American citizens who might be harmed. By. By -- science equipment ultimately isn't up to the Iraqis. To eradicate the axis threat. Ultimately it's up to the Iraqi People the Iraqi Security Forces and the Iraqi Government two. To address the security situation in their country. Again we've talked about what will be required here there will be American support its provided. But there will not be American troops returning to a reckoning combat role the president is determined to ensure that the United States want dragged back into -- -- military conflict there. But ultimately. The challenges that face the nation of Iraq right now are the kinds of challenges that could only be solved by the Iraqi People. -- -- two -- just little bit Jessica. -- -- Thank you let's hear about her. Three straight years. Expect -- it. Well there couple differences there well they're more than a couple of differences. Between the situation Syrian situation in Iraq. Let -- highlight a couple of the more important ones that might illustrate. The kind of things that are driving that -- decision making in these instances. First and importantly. The United States is military involvement in Iraq was at the invitation of the Iraqi Government. And as obviously an important distinction between the the relationship to -- and there is one between the United States and establishing the second thing is the United States has in Iraq. And -- something that we have talked about previously significant intelligence surveillance reconnaissance resources and Iraq. I bet insures that American decision makers the American military and American intelligence officers. Have pretty good visibility into the situation on the ground in Iraq. Of those kinds of assets. And that kind of intelligence. To that extent. Does not. Exist as a relates to situations here. We'll continue to monitor the press for -- -- white house Press Secretary Josh Earnest. A brief reporters live streaming here as well but I wanna bring in now on ABC's news consultant colonel -- get newstalk -- -- the military actions that are happening right now. Colonel thanks for being with us today the military strike today targeting artillery weapons what does that mean exactly. So again it sounds like what was happening. Was that there were artillery pieces which are -- you know they're they're on the ground finish the issued anywhere from Chechnya and shells and about this big to that this think so. So they're they're -- they're shooting artillery into positions that the passion murder. In Kurdistan we're trying to defend along the road or -- And so it's quite clear you can see from the air and our our surveillance capabilities the predator drones. Can clearly see where these where the -- has come from you can see the smoke from the -- from the candidates self. And so I'm sure that we had this targeted. It was probably pinning down the that the the Kurdish fighters that we're trying to defend the road. And so I think what happened was -- said look this is this this artillery pieces -- Coming -- problem and it's probably good test case to to -- her first first bomb on and so it was again protecting the Kurds -- -- -- -- This is the that in the city of her -- in Kurdistan along the road from Mosul out towards the east. Is there's an American Consulate there are also about forty US service personnel -- there who were helping to advise the Kurdish. Paramilitary forces called the of the -- Margaret. So the president said clearly that what I'm doing is I'm going to use. American power to protect those Americans who were in the city of -- -- so he was trying to put in a very very little narrow box. So everybody understood what the specifics. This authorization -- use -- -- was four. How expensive is -- military capability. I think everybody's I think -- -- quite shocked you know we just heard Press Secretary there sort of -- often talk about al-Qaeda writ large but. You know license was everybody thought well you know it's a team coming out of -- been driven out of Syria. You know -- -- foreign fighters there that they should maybe they can take some towns. I think everybody's quite shocked about how fast how far. They've moved into into the the the region's. Of Iraq one of these we have to remember is that they are a Sunni. Radical. Offshoot. And they're moving into Sunni area so there maybe Sunnis who are sympathetic. To their cause maybe not to the point that they want to become radical islamists themselves. But they are quite disappointed in the Melky government and the way that she government has treated the Sunnis and so. They're really working in areas where there's going to be some sympathy. That said we also thought the Pittsburgh of the Kurdish forces were quite capable. And and I'm personally. Fairly shocked about how they've -- collapsed. But all to say these are these are conventional fights and when we were -- we were in Afghanistan before. When the US was there we are fighting much more of a counter insurgency -- it was. You know the pictures of the IED's and explosives in the snipers in this it's -- wasn't a conventional war in the sense that it was military on military with front lines and clearly define uniforms -- -- -- is doing is much more much closer to -- conventional military fight as they try to move down into Iraq. To take territory that actually plays into. The US -- hands it we're going to use air power to stop them. Because it's easier to see them moving along the road if they have tanks -- of him. The stolen humvees which are actually American. American vehicles if they have those that'll be easier to spot. Not the same kind of difficult war we had for many years. Where you were fighting these shadowy figures in the media in the -- and and you know I he's blowing open and very difficult to combat. -- as you pointed out there are forty billion US personnel guy in her BO -- well. What house Press Secretary -- -- was asked by reporters if in fact there was any plans to pull out. Those personnel there do you find in response -- is there any kind of plans in the works trigger discussions been had at this point. I would imagine their significant discussions I think some of us some of ABC's reporting shows that that the folks in Baghdad the embassy in Baghdad are quite concerned. There are three main roads one from the one from the northwest one from the south and one from the south. East coming in to reveal. Right now it would seem that all three of those Rosie if not in the hands -- are at least contested. So most of the skate Rouse -- off to the north east towards Iran which -- -- us much good. Are are contested and right now where the Kurds and may understand. On the road out of Mosul to -- to reveal -- only about a thirty minute drive from downtown -- deal. So they've been -- quite concerned there's not much to stop license if they yet they blow through that. That Kurdish checkpoint -- -- -- I'm sure that there are emergency evacuation plans underway which is what sort of force the president's hand. In authorizing. These military strikes. What is being discussed heavily is the fact that there are -- -- -- president no plans of putting any US boots on the ground and there. At the same time though that the the safety of those that are flying the aircraft performing these operations is certainly being questions as well how logistically how close are these. Aircraft to the ground army is are they in danger -- given that ice is capabilities of being shot down. Actually not not so much is the short answer they're working these are these are mostly F -- we also have the predator drones out there that are shooting these. Hellfire missiles -- the -- the the F -- that are dropping what we call course vision guided. Munitions they can either be guided by laser -- or by GPS coordinate. But they're -- they're able to work so high because Iraq has or is it is a relatively desert environment and so you can still work away from the ground you know 2030000. Feet. And not have cloud cover and still have a good view of the ground and that keeps you away from. Most of the things like man -- -- the shoulder fired surface to air missiles. Or or even just heavier artillery bullets. -- -- the threat is not is not too tough. The real challenge is finding what to hit. Again vices is -- a true military but they are moving down roads and and and makes them very predictable. But having somebody on the ground to pick out those targets would be quite useful. In the absence of that right now -- using as the predator drones when they're able to zoom in with their video links. And look at precise coordinates and pass those coordinates off to the fighters waiting overhead do we have any indication of arming. More the Kurdish pitcher murder forces. Or the fear out there that that eventually those arms fall into the wrong hands. You know that didn't occurred the Kurds. Are you in you -- success stories in the region that the the United States wants to Foster it's a it's a a country of a notional country within a country that has come a long way in. Creating a fairly progressive and and tolerant society. That they've carved out in their traditional areas of Iraq and so. Is it it would be a terrible blow to the US efforts to what to create these. Sort of modern. You know closer to democracy then we would like kinds of countries if if they fell -- so. I would imagine that that we would begin to think about making sure either pressuring. The government in Baghdad to give them better arms or even going in ourselves. We have to remember if we go in and say if we say he OK Kurdistan here's your own weapons. We are -- -- -- treating them like a sovereign state and if we do that that's really the beginning of the end of Iraq as a as -- sovereign nation. With if we are -- -- facto carving out Kurdistan. -- I want to ask you about the confidence level. That -- US has in the Iraqi Army at this point. Somewhere between zero and 5%. It it's quite bad immunity -- Dave -- they have to be humiliated. The only thing that is saving the Iraqi Government right now is the fact that there are Xia. Neighborhoods surrounding most of Baghdad and -- will be very tough. For Sunni -- SRI SIL. To come in through those Shia neighborhoods it's gonna turn into. It worst case it will turn into a sectarian civil war between Sunni. And she on the outskirts of Baghdad but hopefully with. The kind of military power that the that the president has authorized. Will be able to stop them from from overrunning. Overrunning -- BL the next step is probably AM a race south towards Baghdad by the highest fighters. Applications contain him colonel Stephen -- colonel thank you so much for your time appreciate that. And of course you can continue to keep up with this story in real time by -- ABC news -- -- -- store for exclusive updates on the go. -- -- -- -- --

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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