ISIS’ claim of responsibility for the recent terrorist attacks in Turkey, Bangladesh, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia highlight the need to accelerate the campaign to defeat the group in Iraq and Syria, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said Tuesday. Defense Secretary Ash Carter will convene the anti-ISIS coalition’s defense ministers in Washington, D.C., later this month to address how to do just that, Cook said. A date for the meeting has not been set. Saturday’s bombing in Baghdad—which Reuters reported killed at least 175 people and led to the country’s interior minister announcing he would resign on Tuesday—was “a painful reminder of the the lethal capabilities of [ISIS],” Cook said, but “it does not alter the strategy here, and that is to go after [ISIS] in Iraq, in Syria at an accelerated pace, as aggressively as possible to try and limit their ability to carry out those kinds of attacks.” But Cook said the sheer number of recent attacks suggest ISIS might be adjusting its strategy. “We have seen that they do have a very lethal capability to carry out terrorist attacks, and we want to do everything we can to minimize that as well,” Cook said.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.