John Kerry Says US Will Train Iraqi Military to Fight ISIS

(Iraqi Prime Ministery/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. will stand by the Iraqis as they deal with the threat of ISIS and said the country needs an inclusive central government that can lead Iraqi national forces against Islamist militants.

He said it was important that Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's new government stand up new Iraqi National Guard units that will protect their home regions, because the Iraqis can't rely on U.S. airstrikes against ISIS alone.

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"It will not just be reserved to bombs or direct military assistance. It will be comprehensive, with Iraqi forces on the ground in Iraq with an army that will be reconstituted and trained," Kerry said.

Iraqi troops largely folded when ISIS first invaded the country during the Mosul invasion back in June.

"This is a fight that the Iraqi people must win, but it's also a fight that the rest of the world needs to win with them," Kerry said.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry looks out over Baghdad, Iraq, from a helicopter, Sept. 10, 2014. Brendan Smialowski/AP Photo.

Kerry said he had been "encouraged," during his meetings with Iraq's new government leaders, at how willing they seemed to govern in a more inclusive manner than in the past, when former prime minister al-Maliki largely excluded Sunnis and other Iraqi minorities from his administration.

He met with al-Abadi, Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Ja'fari, Speaker Salim al-Jabouri and President Fuad Masum on Wednesday. The nominees for interior and defense minister have not yet been confirmed.

Despite those meetings, Kerry could not give many specifics in terms of what tangible assurances those leaders gave him that they would continue to run the country this way, only that the U.S. is assured as long as they seem to be moving in the direction of inclusiveness.

"The road to democracy is never easy," he said.