White House

White House says we’re at war with Islamic State

Flag of the Islamic State, June 30, 2014 (AP Photo)
Flag of the Islamic State, June 30, 2014 (AP Photo) AP

The U.S. is at war with the Islamic State -- as it is with al Qaida and its affiliates -- the White House said Friday.

“In the same way that we are at war with Al Qaida and its affiliates around the globe, we are at war with ISIL,” Press Secretary Josh Earnest said, using the administration’s acronym for the militant group. “But make no mistake when I say we, I'm not talking just about the United States. I'm talking about this broader international coalition that includes Sunni-led governments in the region and our allies around the world who are united in confronting this threat.”

Earnest’s remarks came a day after Secretary of State John Kerry declined to use the word “war” to describe the conflict with the Islamic State, which the administration widened this week in Iraq, as it added the potential of airstrikes in Syria.

Earnest sought to draw a clear line between the current conflict and the Iraq War, saying it’s a “significantly different” strategy.

“They need to understand that we're talking about a broad international coalition,” he said. “They need to understand that this is consistent with the counterterrorism strategy that the president has employed in other places in a way that has made the American people safer.”

The declaration comes as the White House announced that Obama will travel Wednesday to the U.S. Central Command in Tampa, which will carry out the U.S. military operations in Iraq and Syria.

Obama will receive a briefing from top commanders and thank service members “for their continued hard work on these efforts,” Earnest said.