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tv   Brett Mc Gurk Testifies on Efforts to Defeat ISIS  CSPAN  July 3, 2016 5:10am-7:01am EDT

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whon tuesday journalist covered the supreme court will take a behind the headlines look at the major cases before the court this term, how the court and its members have dealt the unexpected death of justice scalia and what is likely for the p future -- for the future. david savage of the los angeles times in chicago tribune and cnn politics you can see and live tuesday at 12:30 p.m. eastern on c-span two. >> this month, watch c-span's coverage of the 2016 republican and democratic national convention. and every saturday night at 8:00 eastern we look back at past
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the presidential candidates who went on to win their party's nomination. this saturday, the focus on incumbent president to ran for reelection. dwight eisenhower at the 1950 convention in san francisco, the 1964 democratic convention in atlantic city. richard nixon at the 1972 republican can tension in miami beach. the 1980 democratic convention with jimmy carter in new york city. at the 1992bush republican convention in houston. bill clinton in chicago for the 1996 democratic convention. and the 2004 republican convention in new york city with george w. bush. both convention saturday at 8:00 eastern on c-span. >> never look at the global coalition for combating isis.
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he spoke about the role of russia and iran this is just under two hours.
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>> almost two years after he began operations isis has lost territory. 47% of the territory and iraq, syria according to your testimony. unfortunately, that progress on the ground creates new threats to our national interests, as our cia director said this, as you continue to make gains, isis will likely intensify its global terror campaign and that the administration's efforts have
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not reduce the group's terrorism ability and global reach. "the new york times" reported 1200 people outside of iraq and syria. in the wake of the recent terrorist attack in orlando, we expect you provide and hope you will provide an honest assessment of where the global fight against isis is going and address some of the fundament of questions we all have. in particular, i would like to get your take on the actions to address the terror threat by isis, and in spite of their losses in iraq and syria, again, which we herald, and how the coalition plans to defeat isis militarily.
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some of the other questions i hope you answer include do these syria democratic forces, and i think there is a lot of confusion about the various coalitions that are countering assad and also countering isis which is mainly made up of kurds, have enough people to clear them from the northern syria area, and even if we continue to take back territory from isis, are those gains backed by a political process necessary to sustain them? obviously, there are rubs between that group and others and between that group and turkey itself, and as we leave it to its own accord, if you will, with these groups taking on isis in their own ways and taking on assad in their own ways, will it take us down the road to a settlement, or is the success of the battleground leading to the same vacuum it created isis in the first place. finally, what about the glaring disparity and a failing to matter process dependent upon a transition from assad. i do not see how the isis
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coalition can be successful while the syrian civil war continues. this administration has declared that assad must go, but it certainly appears at that position is changing or has changed. i do not see how what is left of the political process possibly leads to assad's departure. i hope you will help us understand. also, attacks at home and our military response to isis does not reflect the threat to the united states. i think many of us grow frustrated with the administration's optimistic rhetoric that does not often match results. having proxies to the fighting is creating a range of diplomatic problems that will have ramifications for years to come.
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with that, again, i want to thank you for your service to our country. i want to thank you for the way you talk with all of us in such a direct manner, and we look forward to your testimony, and with that, our distinguished ranking member, mr. carter. mr. carter: thank you to your service to the country, i agree, anytime you have appeared before the committee, we have a great deal of confidence, so thank you again for the manner with which you have conducted this office. mr. chairman, isis is a global threat, both to the physical safety and the democratic values we hold dear. it destabilizes our already weak states and inspires radicalization of individuals to perpetuate terrorism with known countries as we, and our allies, have experienced. as we see every day across the middle east, europe, and elsewhere, isis attacks
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propaganda, design not only to kill but to turn communities against one another. sunnis against shia. muslim against christian. immigrants against citizens. to defeat isis, we are mobilizing the international community militarily and economically and politically to fight extremism in all forms in our own political discourse. due to the efforts of the administration, the united states leads a 66 participant coalition against terrorism. in the military sphere, we are shrinking the isis safe havens in places like falluja. their flow of foreign fighters has been cut, and they have lost millions in revenues. yet, as i am sure our witness will agree, there is a lot more that needs to be done. there are no quick answers to this challenge. these efforts have not been without serious costs.
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we stand in solidarity with countries such as jordan, which suffered another terror attack in recent days. i commit our witness for his recent visit to jordan, where he gave our unwavering support to the jordanian people. we know our global efforts to fight isis will not be easy. as cia director john brennan testified, as isis experiences heavier losses, it will intensify its global campaign. we have to be careful about that. we might be able to contain them on the ground, but then what happens with global terrorism is -- terrorism? we have to redouble our efforts, especially in the areas liberated that were held by isis. tens of thousands of people who have been freed from isis captivity are now living in displacement camps in horrible conditions under intense summer desert heat. i commend our administration's recent pledge to provide $20 million of the military in a to
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the united nations committee on refugees, a right response, but more needs to be done. i call on our partner nations to assist falluja residents meeting border food and more. we cannot let them suffer even more. on july 20, the united states would join with canada, germany, and japan at a conference in washington. this is a critical opportunity for the international community to continue to support stabilization efforts in iraq. in addition to the military and efforts, our coalition must work harder on long-term reconstruction and reconciliation efforts. some fear political participation. this would only lead to another. the real threat against isis and their ilk comes not just from the barrel of a gun but from the ballot box, the courthouse, and a growing economy. the prime minister needs
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international aid now, and he needs international support to keep spoilers, such as iran, from its interference in politics. let me conclude with this. as i stated earlier, isis challenge is not only our physical well-being but are both of pluralism and openness. let us not commit to not only defeating isis on the battlefield but their poisonous narrative of division. we are all in it together, regardless of our nationality. we must fight the forces of divisiveness at home and abroad. mr. chairman, i look forward to hearing from our witness. senator corker: your business card must be very large. the thank you for being here today. we know that you realize you can summarize your comments, if you wish.
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your written testimony, without objection, will be entered into the record, and with that, thank you for being here. mr. mcgurk: thank you, chairman corker, ranking member cardin, and members. this criminal act was an assault on the things that define us as a free nation. we wish a full and speedy recovery to the wounded. the attacks underscore the imperative need to defeat isil across its global networks. i just returned from a visit to iraq, jordan, israel, and jordan, as senator cardin mentioned, i met just one day
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after a suicide bomber killed seven guarding their boarder. in egypt, egyptian forces are struggling against an isil branch, and we are offering assistance. in israel, they are looking to compensate for losses of manpower and territory, and we must not let them succeed, and in iraq, but our support and assistance, they are rooting out isil strongholds one by one, most recently in falluja, where they held a population hostage for 30 months. my statement today will highlight the progress we are making against isil but it will not diminish the challenge that now confronts much of the world. we analyze them in three ways, the core, the network, propaganda networks, and financial networks. and there are their affiliates
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that seek to expand their reach. we have our coalitions that seek to defeat them in three areas. my written notes have indicators which are many now trending in the right direction. foreign fighters are down, and countries are now sharing information to identify those who are still traveling. outside financing has been severed, and internal financing has taken a hit through painstaking intelligence work and precision targeting by military forces in iraq and syria. isil's propaganda is now being challenged 24/7 with private companies and individuals. their leaders are either in hiding or are being killed now at a rate of one every three days, including one of the main deputies. some terrorists killed by u.s. military forces. and their territory is shrinking, losing nearly 50% of
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territory once controlled in iraq and 20% in syria over the last 18 months. what makes isil different is what it proclaims as a phony caliphate, a notion that has been a primary driver and recruitment for the tens of thousands of foreign fighters that have joined them in syria and iraq. it also allows them to extract vast resources from the territory, and most important way, to launch sophisticated attacks. the attacks we have seen in brussels and paris, for example, we believe stems from their external network, and it has sent operatives through the manbij pocket. that is why we must take their territory away from them, and just as important, stabilize areas after. as you mentioned, mr. chairman. i would like to highlight briefly how we're doing so, pointing to three areas on the map that i have attached to my written testimony.
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number one is manbij pocket. led by the military council, and these are local people seeking to liberate their own territory from isil, they launched an attack across the phrase river. -- euphrates river. this force is approximately 3500 strong and is made up primarily of arabs, with kurds in assistance, along with our special forces. putting together this coalition took painstaking work, military and diplomatic, but the real results thus far are promising. the forces liberated 1000 square kilometers, and they are beginning to push him, neighborhood by neighborhood. as they move, they are providing vital information on the network. we believe providing them support to liberate their own areas is a model to future operations. from the other end of manbij pocket, modern operation groups are beginning to push against
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them. isil has ordered a fight to the death, but now that we are moving on two fronts, they are beginning to degrade. canope the coalition forces take this territory away from them entirely. number five on the map is mosul. this is coordinated from a joint base where he tragically lost a u.s. marine last month. these operations, one of which is just south of mosul, ongoing at this hour, are setting up for the operation. that will be a significant military challenge that also a humanitarian challenge. the planning is now underway. in the iraqi kurdistan region, i was invited with ambassador jones to attend a meeting with the national security advisor to address the difficult challenges in the campaign.
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this is one of the more positive meetings i have attended in iraq. focusing on the coming liberation of mosul and west must be done, including for the diverse communities to work together. the iraqi government agreed to pay and equip thousand for that campaign, representing arabs, kurds, christians, you see the yazidis, and others. this is building on a model that has worked in tikrit, to return with significant backing and support from our coalition. finally, in anbar, number seven and eight on the map, iraqi forces with tribal fighters have over the past few months alone liberated ramadi, falluja, and broke a two-year siege in the city of hadifa.
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this is significant process. they have not lost a battle now in more than a year, and key decisions by the prime minister to empower the local people in their own liberation. this is not to overshadow the serious problems that have occurred, including reports of human rights abuses, but there, the iraqi government has taken immediate efforts. there is much work to do, particularly in falluja, where they overwhelm the capacity of local responders. thanks to quick responses, tens of millions of dollars in aid is now flowing to these refugee camps, and the u.n. is helpful when they get returns next month. as senator cardin mentioned, we will also have a very important pledging conference in washington to generate the resources needed to care for these people. returning people to their homes is a key priority for our
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coalition, and today in iraq, 95% of the population of tikrit and more have gone back. accordingly, as we look to accelerate the defeat of isil in these areas, we are focused on what comes after, as you mentioned, mr. chairman, and to assure that their defeat is lasting. in sum, we had progress, but there is a lot left to do here at home and around the world against this unprecedented challenge. i am grateful for this opportunity to appear before you, and i am happy to address your questions. sen. corker: and i will reserve my time in turn to the ranking member. senator cardin: we have had military success in the past. can we hold that military success? are we able to develop
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functioning governments? and in iraq, as we are starting to get more territory, falluja having fallen, the sunni civilian population is justifiably concerned as to their safety as relates to the shia militia. what steps are we taking to protect the civilian population in these areas that we have been able to militarily reclaim? mr. mcgurk: senator, thank you. this has been a primary focus of ours from day one. no areas have been taken from them that they have been able to retake, and that is fairly significant, given how difficult the situation is in iraq. what we have done from day one, and this goes back to the fall of 2014. we are not in the business of reconstructing iraq or repeating mistakes we have made in the past. we're trying to revolutionize how we do that.
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we have a partner who believes in decentralizing power as much as possible and empowering local people, so the fundamental example of this was in tikrit. it was entirely depopulated by isil in 2014, a site of massive atrocities and mass killing's. was it was liberated, through the coalition, we were able to flood resources there are a stabilization fund that we established through the coalition, and this is focused on getting people back to their homes, and returning people back to their homes, it is important to recognize, we have looked at this historically. it can take years, if ever, and thereby empowering their local leaders and making sure their resources are there, the returnees reach a tipping point,
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and now we have almost the entire city back on the streets of tikrit. the local people are guarding the streets. senator cardin: has you deal with the militias? mr. mcgurk: great question. they have to work with the iraqi state. that is a principle. we think most of these popular mobilization forces do operate under the control of the iraqi state, that about 15% or 20% do not, in those groups are a fundamental problem. another thing we want to do is make sure they stay out of sunni areas, where they can cause real problems. militias areia not there. this is one thing that gave the population the confidence to return. we have a principle when we support iraqi forces in the military campaign, we only support forces on the ground operating strictly under command and control. that means going through an iraqi chain of command were we are working with iraqi commanders. if there is a unit that is not
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operating under that structure -- senator cardin: are you confident they will be able to maintain the safety of the sunni civilians? mr. mcgurk: falluja, they just completed the liberation of the last neighborhood this weekend. we have 80,000 displaced people. there is one of the u.n. programs later this week. they are hopeful that all of these will be under shelter by the middle of this week and will begin returns next month. what is also somewhat encouraging about falluja is that the destruction in the city looks to be fairly minimal compared to other operations, so we are hopeful we can return the people of falluja to the streets as soon as possible. government can lead that, and, of course, the shia militia groups that operate outside the law have to be out of the city. otherwise, the people will not return, and we have a plan with local falluja police, policeman
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there who have been trained really for the last year, waiting to go back to guard their streets. that is what we did in tikrit, and that is what we hope to do with falluja. senator cardin: let me ask a question. they were defining it by territory. they are now losing territory. will they be defining it through international terrorism, by the sensational attacks that we see all too often? can we expect that that may accelerate? what can we do to counter that if that appears to be their game plan? mr. mcgurk: so, senator, isil has always talked about external attacks, and i think i talked about this in 2013. senator cardin: but as they start to lose territory, is it likely they will accelerate that part of their campaign?
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mr. mcgurk: their core banner has been the caliphate, maintaining and expanding their caliphate, and as i mentioned in my written testimony, he said, we may lose all of our territory, including mosul. and this is what director brennan testified to last week. this is extraordinarily difficult to stop. we have to remain vigilant. this is why we have a global coalition not just for iraq and syria but to make sure we are working with interval so that as these people try to travel, they can be picked up, and we are doing better at that now, but we have a ways to go, and we cannot let up, because it was al qaeda in iraq, and they split in two directions, one about a state like caliphate entity, and another one in syria, which does not really have the notion of establishing a caliphate, but they are both al qaeda.
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they both went to kill anyone who does not agree with them, and isil will continue -- we are not just taking back territory. we are collecting substantial amounts of information, and that helps us root it out, not only in iraq and syria but in the branches were it exists in syria and other places. senator: thank you. the analogy i used is a beehive. been reporting a fair amount of progress. they have not reduced the terrorism capability in global reach, and they remain a
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resilient and largely cohesive entity. do you disagree with that assessment? mr. mcgurk: i agree with the director, of course, and i think you see in my testimony that i am the last one working on this complicated issue every day to diminish this significant threat. you know, let me just put a number on it. 40,000 foreign fighters have traveled in the last four or five years, indoctrinated with this jihad ideology. that is almost twice as many from the numbers we saw that went to afghanistan in the 1980's, and we know what that eventually led to, so this is something we have not seen before, and you add to it social media and the speed of travel now, everything, it is an unprecedented challenge, and it is going to be with us for years. senator johnson: do you agree with director brennan?
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mr. mcgurk: the attack like brussels and paris are what they plan from their sanctuaries, so we believe those were organized in raqqa. those attacks are harder to do when you are pressing on their territory. the lone wolf attacks that are very difficult to stop. senator johnson: my point is, until we actually defeat them, we can nibble around the edges, we can make some progress, we can push them out of iraq, and, i mean, i have yet to hear how this administration has a game plan for actually defeating them. i mean, i hear the game plan for making progress, it actually the feeding them, and the best point i'm trying to make, if we do not defeat them, if we do not deny them territory, if we do not deny them the caliphate, if we do not take away those safe havens, they are incredibly
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sophisticated. what we have seen in san bernardino and in orlando, tragically. there was, by the way, a foiled plot against a masonic temple in wisconsin. also isis inspired. we have to defeat them. where is our strategy for that? mr. mcgurk: we are planning to defeat them. you have to take away their territory. in mosul, we have focused on key moments, cutting them off, and another is about isolating raqqa. senator johnson: when did the three-your clock start? present obama declared 22 months. went to the clock starts ticking on a three-year plan? mr. mcgurk: we put this together in 2014. senator johnson: deny them the
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safe havens in syria in, basically, 14 months, if it is a three-year game plan? mr. mcgurk: i was there last week, and we want to do it as soon as possible. the force that has to move on raqqa has to be a primarily arab force. that is why we have increased our special forces for training. and then the plan is raqqa. so we are moving at a tempo that i believe will lead to their defeat. senator johnson: we are not going to defeat them in 14 months, are we? that is my point. we are not doing this fast enough. it becomes more dangerous. we have not reduced their
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terrorism capability or their global reach. when are we going to have a game plan from this a ministration to actually accomplish the goal question or it is not what to happen in the three-year timeframe. what is it going to take? mr. mcgurk: we want to speed up their defeat in mosul. it is not just the military. we are using helicopters and advisers. there is an operation going on right now to the south that is critical to isolating them. another operation is ongoing right now that is hard fighting. once that is done, that sets the conditions for raqqa. it is a step-by-step process to get to raqqa and mosul. we are beginning to isolate their presence. senator johnson: look. i appreciate your efforts, but i agree with you. we are not moving fast enough. senator: thank you.
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senator: i am not going to repeat questioning that we had in earlier hearings, but i share senator johnson's -- some of his critiques, but we are not moving fast enough. i think congress has been in a position that we want to criticize the administration, but we are 22 months in on something we have not debated and voted on. i compare this to the level of detail that we just undertook to have their eight narrow reforms in the department of defense, and the amount of discussion, about an ongoing war were 17 people have been killed, and others have been injured -- it stuns me, but let me pass that thought, because i am well on the record on that. let me get to some particulars. i do congratulate our troops and the efforts they have made on the battlefield to shrink the territory that isil holds, and
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that is notable, but when we talk about the battlefield where i have concerns. let's start with libya. isil in libya has been losing its center of gravity. that has been a positive, but where does the coalition believe the next front will open up in north africa? there are about 5000 fighters in libya. where are they located, and what is being done to target them? i think north africa, not only to the dangers in africa but also the proximity to europe is a concern. mr. mcgurk: thank you, senator. one reason i was there was to discuss the north african region. i was there to discuss this. libya is a good example. it highlights how complicated this is. most foreign fighters that have joined isil have come out of tunisia, what is seen as some of the bright spot of the arab spring, and it shows what is
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indoctrinating the young people, some of it is sectarianism, but some of it is something else. 6000 tunisians, many of whom have gone to libya, and this is a real problem. tunisia is a coalition partner, and we are working closely with them. and with egypt and the situation in libya, but also, the bright spot in libya is that the libyans are rejecting the ir presence. there is this hockey like stick growth. are they matching what they tried to do in iraq and syria, and it turns out that that has not been the case. they have kind of plateaued at about 5000 fighters, 6000 fighters. that is our assessment. and the forces aligned with the new national court have made more progress, more progress than we have anticipated, so now we are looking at how do we
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accelerate that is being made, so i am fairly confident now that we have a strategy in place in libya they can at least begin to degrade that presence. libya has other problems. the concern we have about the accelerated growth of isil is something that appears to be mitigated, but we have to keep at it. senator kaine: in the philippines, there has been an aggressive recruitment efforts in the philippines, working on the leadership there of one man, and there has even been recruiting efforts in countries like malaysia to get foreign fighters to go not to just syria and iraq but to go to the philippines. worries about isil and others in southeast asia. mr. mcgurk: another great question. i was, a year ago, in singapore and malaysia. some of these are pre-existing terror groups that have pledged and allegiance, and the question we ask, what is the reason all
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around the world as to why these groups are flying the flag of isil? it is this notion of a caliphate. that is one reason why shrinking the territory is so important. so i saw the announcement in the philippines recently, and, again, and i mentioned this in my written testimony, we cannot get too distracted anytime a pre-existing terror group flies the flag of isil, because we are already dealing with this in a number of ways. are sending their best leaders. one we targeted and killed. we have seen leaders try to transfer. that is where we are concerned. we have not seen that in southeast asia. we have to work with our partners around the world and particularly in southeast asia to make sure these remain
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contained, but we are not seeing that libya like transfer of resources from isil central all of the way out. senator kaine: thank you. my time is up. senator: like the state department that mr. mcgurk works for and like the white house, we agree that this administration has all legal authority necessary to combat isis, so i just want that to be stated. certainly, we have had multiple hearings on how to deal with this, and i personally am pushed back against efforts to limit his ability to conduct the operations, which much of the discussions around the map has that about, so i just want to say again, i support the efforts that are underway. i would like to see it happen in a much more expeditious manner.
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i know it is creating threats to our homeland, which we have got to counter, but i do support the administration's statement that they have the legal basis to do what they are doing, and i do what i do, everything i can, to keep up this body from limiting their ability to do that. with that, i will turn to the senator. senator: thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for the testimony. turning to your statement about being able to deny them territory and impact their ability to foment terrorism elsewhere or direct activities, are we seeing a difference in their ability in that their main headquarters in raqqa, syria, has not really been impacted? with the areas we have taken that? mr. mcgurk: excellent.
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so their ability to move fighters across raqqa has been significantly degraded. we have cut off the main roads between raqqa and mosul, and they are forced on the back roads. we have teams in northern iraq that go after them, we have degraded their ability to move fighters around, but most important for our homeland security, and this is why this operation in manbij is so important. they coordinate then move out through turkey. we have worked with turkey to close up that border on their side, and the turks have done an awful lot, and we commend them for that, but until we take the territory away, isil is able to
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move in a way we are not comfortable with. so that is why this operation in manbij is critical. don't take my word for it. and what they have put out, they are saying, hey, do not come to syria anymore. do an attack at home, or go to libya. that is because it is much harder for them to get into syria. what we see every morning in terms of their ability to get people in, and once they are in, it is very hard to get out, and we want to make sure they do not get people in syria, and once they're in syria, that they never get out. that is the essence of what we are trying to do. senator: you mentioned that we are killing their leadership at a rate of one every three days. what impact has that had on their planning abilities? what is the focus or abilities they have, whether caliphate's or others? mr. mcgurk: i testified about a month after mosul fell, and what
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we were seeing was a sophisticated military command like organization with command and control, the ability to move around and take entire cities. they cannot do that anymore, and their leaders are having a very hard time communicating. there are having a very hard time organizing where to put their resources, so we have really degraded their ability to command and control. one of the principles of defeating them, so taking out their leader is not a sufficient condition, but it is a necessary condition in order to degrade the overall network. senator flake: turning to iran, since the deal was struck, we hoped that some of the posture in the region would change. has there posture changed? and in syria, have we seen a change in terms of iran's behavior or their willingness to work with other groups in a positive way? or is it all still negative? mr. mcgurk: i, in my role, have
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not seen a significant change in iranian behavior. isil is a threat. they are fighting isil from time to time, but they are dealing with the assad regime and supporting some of these militias. and going to senator cardin's question, some are operating outside of the legal authority of the iraqis that, which is a threat to iraq's own sovereignty, supported by iran, and that is a huge problem, and we have not seen that diminished since the nuclear deal, certainly. senator flake: thank you. i share senator kaine's view. in, not ought to weigh to question whether or not we have the authority or the executive branch has the authority, and even putting that aside, i think it is valuable for our adversaries and our allies to know that we speak with one voice here. as you mentioned, this is going to go on for a long, long time.
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and i think we would all benefit if congress weighed in more heavily. thank you. sen. corker: thank you. senator? senator: i ensure you are aware there was a widely reported story this week about weapons being stolen in jordan. to what extent do we think any of those weapons are going to isis? mr3. mcgurk: senator, i have seen those reports. i just cannot address the roots to that story. i might be able to address it in a different setting. senator: and to what extent does a story like that and the ability to steal under our noses and under the noses of the jordanians, who are one of our most important allies, are they used as propaganda for isis in
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attracting new fighters again and promoting their cause? mr. mcgurk: what i will say, having just been in jordan, i met the national security team, one of our close allies. they are on the very front line of this fight, and i think they would be just as concerned as anyone here with stories like that. senator sheehan: i certainly agree that jordan has been a terrific ally, which is even more reason why we need to get to the bottom of what is going on there and address it in a way that does not allow it to continue there. let me ask, because it is comparatively easy and can -- concrete to be able to track what is happening on the battlefield with isis, to be able to talk about what the efforts are to address them, to be able to talk about who in their leadership we have taken out. i think it is much more difficult to talk and to address the underlying governance issues
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that have allowed isis to metastasize, much harder to address the messaging that isis does to attract new fighters. can you talk about the extent to which this effort is engaged with both of those more difficult challenges? mr. mcgurk: it is externally difficult, and that is why there is a balance between speed and sustainability. it is true. maybe there are some things we could do to speed it up, but then we would not have gains sustained. when you retake a city, you have to know who is going to govern the city? who is the military and -- it is extraordinarily difficult. so what we try to do, particularly in iraq, and i think we have had some success here, is to make sure these conditions are in place before we moved to clear out isil from populated areas, and the philosophy led by the prime minister is more
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decentralization, more federalism, more empowering local people to control their affairs, and that is very important and something that we very much support. we have seen the success in tikrit. peopledi, about 60,000 returned to their homes, and this is shortly after isil was pushed out of remodel, but 100 were tragically killed, because as they leave, they put booby-traps in people's closets and refrigerators, and that is how barbaric this organization is. and we raised $15 million initially, and we have people on the ground clearing blocked by block, and that is really going really well, but it is also an indicator of how difficult this is. the heart of your question is important. we cannot just defeat isil. we have to have a lasting defeat. all of these things have to come together.
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it is one of the hardest things to do imaginable, but if you look at what we are trying to do and at the mobilization of the tribes, we never would have been able to clear all of this territory in anbar province on the jordanian border without the support of the local tribes. that took a lot of work. it took a lot of great work from our special forces that are out there working, even at the air base way out in hadifa but you have to have these, pieces together. in order to deliver something sustainable. senator sheehan: i think they have talked to making gains on the battlefield against isis that there is a greater likelihood that we will see terrorist attacks in the west and other parts of the world to try to draw attention away from what is happening on the battlefield. do you share that assessment? mr. mcgurk: isil has talked about attacking us for years, so that is nothing new. the brussels and paris attacks
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were organized years ago, even before we started to take their territory away. one thing i think they will do, as they are losing this central narrative of the caliphate, this state, they will try to inspire through the internet these lone wolf types of attacks, and any deranged individual can suddenly fly the banner of isil and get attention, and they recognize this and are trying to encourage it. we will push them out of mosul. we will push them out of raqqa. but this underpinning of the ideology, where anyone who disagrees with them deserves to die. that is what they believe. it is crazy. that will be with us for a while. we have to defeat them, but we also have our partners in the gulf and saudi arabia to fight that ideological battle, and
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they are doing so. senator sheehan: thank you. senator corker: if i may, we continue to hear, like from qatar, how they went to more fully and to the battle on the ground, if you will, and, of course, we hear lots of things. unless we see something, it is not real. they then talk about how the u.s. -- they have concerns about the united states' commitment. can you share with us come with saudi arabia and others joining us more fully on the ground? mr. mcgurk: so i have been in the gulf a lot in the last year, and the saudi's are very focused on the conflict in yemen, and as we hope, the peace process would begin, and the conflict will begin to wind down. there will be an increasing focus on daish.
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we have heard these requests of a possibility of troops on the ground, things like that. it is very important that all of this is organized under our coalition effort. we, of course, have planners of all of these countries at centcom about what we are going to do, but i was there in saudi arabia at this summit about six weeks ago, and the saudi's make a very compelling case. it is true that isil is a threat to them. they have plots inside saudi arabia. all must every few weeks, they are breaking up a plot, so it is an ideological struggle that has to be led by the saudi's and the egyptians and the leaders in the muslim world, where i do think they can take a leading role. you are working with them on that. senator corker: i do not want to take up too much time, but
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actually participating. they cite behind closed doors, and it is not unknown, their unwillingness to really get engaged. away from the ideological, but back to what is actually happening on the ground, especially in syria. do you believe that the comments they are making are real? mr. mcgurk: i think -- we work very hard to match capabilities and capacity with needs, and i think i could go through in a very detailed way in a different setting height of what we are doing with each coalition partner. we would like to see those countries participate in the air campaign.
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the jordanians are participating in the air campaign, and we really need more assets in the skies as we develop more intelligence and more targets, but in terms of ground capabilities, our focus on empowering local actors to the break their own territory is the most sustainable solution for feeding isil, and that will remain our fundamental approach. sen. corker: and senator isakson. senator isakson: drawing lines in the sand not to cross, is that right? this should -- about bombing syria at one point. we pretty much backed away from it. we drew a couple more lines in the sand, and then we had the 22-month game plan in going against isil. there has not really been much mention of assad. where does he fit in this plan
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to take out isil right now? mr. mcgurk: as long as assad is leading the government in damascus, this war will never end. that is something we stated very clearly to the russians and to the backers of the assad regime. it is a question about the best way to set the incentives for a sustainable transition. i think militarily, regime change is something we have seen before and is extremely risky with consequences. the russians have said that they support a transition in damascus. the russians have claimed that they will support a cessation of hostilities on the ground.
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president putin went to his people saying he would support it. quite frankly, the russians have not done in this regard with a promised, and this remains a very serious problem. senator isakson: are they the force behind assad right now? mr. mcgurk: the level of influence is something we look at. the russians were seen as the main influencer, and more recently, we have started to see the iranians eclipse them a little bit, and both of them are backing the assad regime, and we say to the russians, look at this. you guys are in bed with the assad regime, with hezbollah, with the quds force.
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you guys, what is your long-term strategy here, and, frankly, i do not think they have one, so they came in to try to bolster up the assad regime, and i thought they would find a path out of syria, but that is not the case. the only way to have a sustainable solution is where our forces can organize against these extremist threats. senator isakson: and that is my point. given the fact that there is not one, given the fact that syria has been decimated with a civil war over four or five years, given that the armenians are iranians are backing assad pretty steadily all of the way through, there appears to be no end on assad's ability to stay in place. am i correct? mr. mcgurk: i think you have hit the nail on the head with a very difficult situation in syria. the cessation of hostilities, trying to deescalate the
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violence, trying to mobilize forces against isil, and where this really comes to a head is in a aleppo. there is one thing led by al qaeda. not part of the cessation of hostilities, and the russians know they have every right to go after to defend aleppo, but instead, the regime is launching an attack against the opposition, so it is a very serious situation, senator, and it is requiring a lot of our attention and focus, and the russians will either live up to their promise or not, but right now, putin is either proving unable to do what he promised his people he would do, or -- senator isakson: maybe that i should not say or ask, but it appears that given assad and what he has endured, and the matrix of what is going on in that part of the world, isil, which we're trying to eradicate, like senator johnson in his questioning, as long as assad is there, it will be hard to take
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isil out, because they benefit by them being there, is that right? mr. mcgurk: where the civil war starts to deescalate, and we saw the south of damascus, it frees up opposition groups. the civil war is escalating. opposition groups are obviously fighting the regime, and that gives isil more space to grow, so dealing with the civil war, in order for a long-term solution, including with al qaeda in syria, we have to address. senator isakson: thank you for your service. we appreciate it very much. sen. corker:: before we go to
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senator menendez, you are learning about the relationships in other places. and you tell us where the central nervous system is relative to the inspiration efforts to try to get people here in the united states and other places to conduct operations against westerners? where is that central nervous system housed? is it in the caliphate, or is it outside? mr. mcgurk: i will give you an example of how difficult this is. i believe it is in raqqa. and to instigate these attacks, there was jihadi john, the brutal murderer, but he was also a computer hacker, and he would sit in raqqa all day, trying to inspire attacks. he would just sit there in the apartment, with hundreds of civilians in the apartment building, and it creates a real dilemma. you have to take out jihadi
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john, we know where he is, beut you do not one to take out an apartment complex, and we had to wait for him to come outside. he was the number one guy on the computer all day, trying to inspire attacks, sitting there all day in the heart of a crowded apartment building, and that is why after manbij, we are to move down and isolate raqqa. sen. corker: with senator menendez. senator menendez: we appreciate your work and wish you the best of luck. but i have some real concerns as i read the testimony and listened to some of your responses, so let me try and see if you can help me with them. i want to return to the cia director's remarks, where he said against them on the battlefield and in the financial realm, our efforts have not
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reduced the group's terrorism and global reach and goes on to say the group would have to suffer even heavier losses, territory, and money for its terror capacity to decline significantly, and, in fact, we judge it will intensify its global terror campaign to maintain its dominance on the global terrorism agenda. and then i heard your response to senator cardin, when he asked, for example, in iraq, after we take territory back, your response was we are not repeating past mistakes, we are not reconstructing iraq. but it begs the question -- aren't we actually repeating past mistakes? when you point to the map and you talk about nr, and most old , thesecreate -- tiqrit
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are places where our men and defeatost their lives to aggression and we are in the same situation again where it comes to defeating isil. how is this different? how are you suggesting that we are not repeating past mistakes in terms of holding territory after we have cleared it spending an enormous amount of lives, a national treasure? mr. mcgurk: what i meant by that comment specifically was on the model of reconstruction. we spent $60,000 on reconstruction in iraq and i don't think the record is one that was worth the investment. big projectsified without the real by you and of local people. but we are doing now is we have a stabilization fund that the local people to
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identify the immediate concerns of their people for example, getting the water back on. what are wendez: doing -- do we believe the iraqi andes, clearing out anbar, mosul andd -- and tiqrit will have the ability to hold places that we have cleared? mr. mcgurk: to date, all of the areas that have been taken back from isil, none of them have been retaken. there are not- american forces in the cities trying to hold the territories afterwards. we are organizing local police and local people to hold the territory afterwards. senator menendez: so, your
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answer is yes. we believe the iraqis will be able to maintain those territories on their own and be able to make sure that i sell isilnot recapture -- that does not recapture those territories. mr. mcgurk: an organized international genocidal terrorist organization holding cities -- it is not something i think they can do. menendez: i assume the administration's view is that peace talks are the best avenue towards a solution. there is an international consensus that we need a diplomatic solution to lead to a sustainable solution. administration's policy and hope.
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damascustransition in which is now enshrined in a un security council resolution. specialmenendez: the envoy to syria said last week that he hoped the peace talks would resume in july that only at the security situation on the ground showed clear improvement. he said political talks cannot proceed while things are escalating. on the one hand, we place our hopes and the u.n. process and encourage the coalition to do the same while on the other hand, the united nations does not have a way forward because the security situation on the ground is not improving. -- i do not remains particularly view that russia and iran have the same goals as we do as they relate to the syrian people.
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don't we need to be engaging in trying to improve the humanitarian situation on the ground so that the aspirational political talks can move forward? shouldn't we be looking at safe zones, no-fly zones, and other elements of trying to create a basis for the aspirational peace talks to take place? mr. mcgurk: there is no question that with the current levels of violence, the conditions for meaningful political process are extremely difficult. you are right, senator. on the humanitarian side, since the cessation of hostilities, we have reached 10 times as many people that had been breached in the year before, but not nearly enough. continuessad regime to attack areas even after humanitarian aid has been delivered.
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the real flashpoint is aleppo. we are working very hard to try to deescalate that. without basis a sin of without as -- cessation of hostilities, the political process in geneva remains at a standstill. senator corker: there was a group of 51 people that do ended on u.s. policy which i think is a good thing that the state department allows that kind of dissent to take place. that very the sense high leadership within the state that we putas urged site militarily. aid ismanitarian
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delivered, there is a barrel bomb killing the very people that the eight had been given to. can you give us any sense as to whether there is a debate relative how to handle assad? maybe a route that is worth taking? we are mr. chairman looking very closely at how to ofe an enforceable cessation hostilities. we have also looked closely at the assad regime -- even the open source statistics -- about 100,000 fighters have been killed by the opposition. gdp has collapsed. those are the kinds of assumptions that four years ago i think many people thought would lead to the conditions were a political transition. they have not. cessation enforceable
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of hostilities. do not corker: and we have that. we are in a circular situation. it will not happen. we met with secretary kerry in munich. senator purdue was there and others. situation is not real. i do not see anything at present that will change that dynamic. i look forward to question you further. i will go and vote. markey is next and you are now chairman. markey: thank you, mr. chairman. your testimony is always candid and to the point. i know you are the messenger. i am personally concerned about -- i amonths from now
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very concerned. i want to talk about syria. hadeems to me that we have witnesses here that have given testimony that the best option is a sunni fighting force on the ground. not an american force. iraq, we have issues with shia militia and security after a town is liberated. in private meetings with some of the major players, a have given us information that they are ready to stand up. in saudi arabia's case, potentially 30,000 fighters to syria.sis in they are concerned about a lack of american leadership. they are waiting on the u.s. can you speak to that in a little more detail?
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a we get into syria, it is much more confused battle space then it was in iraq. today thatfghanistan when a troops liberated the city and turned it over to the police, the taliban and, right back. the question in iraq is different. i am trying to get to syria relative to what kind of lighting force will be able to sustain a long-term effort. especially to hold the ground once it is liberated. mr. mcgurk: the fundamental premise of what we need our local people delivery and hold their own territory. what we have tried to do, i mentioned mobilizing the tribes of an bar province -- anbar province. we are looking for police leaders organizing the local people.
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that effort has been unsuccessful. the we very much agree that we to liberate and hold their own territory but oftentimes they need help. army and they defend it like an army. you cannot just take out a bunch of sunni tribesmen and put them in the fight to go and liberate a city like falluja. sunni also met with tribal leaders that are exiled from iraq and syria and claim to have tens of thousands of people ready to fight. names say -- give us the and we will help them get ready for fight. they often do not have the influence. it is a very difficult dynamic. anbare two sites in province. where our coalition advisers are located and that has given us the ability to figure out who is who, organize
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sunni fighters and give them the capacity to 60. in syria, we have gone from 50 special force advisers up to 100 and that is the reason. senator markey: are they primarily training? mr. mcgurk: training and advising. -- organizingon the force that will push down on raqqa. in 2015, akey: training program was initiated .hat spent about $45 million and we trained about five people so that was an unmitigated disaster. as we say here today, the numbers are reported in the 100 range. i think we are approaching the $500 million that was authorized.
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can you talk about the training program? how many forces are going back into fight? are they just enablers, spotters or support people? mr. mcgurk: let me explain what we are doing. the effort that was tried to organize and train these were likelike units -- brigades units did not work. on there a lot of forces ground fighting isil every day. rather than taking them all out and training them, what we are doing now is identifying groups, they arevetted, supported and then we take out a couple of their leaders to learn how to call in airstrikes and learn how to do more sophisticated things which is then a force multiplier for that unit. we have a system now that is very well structured in terms of the force we work with on the ground being able to call in
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precision airstrikes but it takes some training. rather than try to organize these large units which was something that was not successful, we are identifying units that are on the ground, they know the local area and are able to fight and giving individual leaders specialized skills able to enhance their abilities on the ground. senator markey: we are not adding any fighters at this point. mr. mcgurk: through that effort, no. we are trying to organize and grow the force that will move down on raqqa because that is a prime target. senator markey: do you have any other questions? senator: i have another question on the ground and in the air.
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i would like to talk about the .ybrid war that is underway in january 2016, the administration and announced a major change in our direction in terms of countering the message on social media of isil and other hybrid platforms. how is that working? have we been able to draft outside voices to counter isis? areoverall question is what we doing today to counter the isis message in this hybrid warfare? mr. mcgurk: great question. have ofa course -- we course established a center which is focused on this 24/7. this is not something that can be done out of washington. we need a global network to go after their on my messaging. two years ago, they had free reign on free book -- facebook, twitter, and you book -- you
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too. we have reversed their trend. on twitter, for every single row isil twitter handle -- pro- twitter handle, we have others to combat those. they are all over the place. some are just voices from the region. senator markey: are they coordinated? mr. mcgurk: some is organized but what is more successful is the organic messaging. twitter is also working with those companies. twitter has removed a number of their sites. you asked how it was organized. the internet is an organic where you cannot have centers that do this. senator markey: we just stood up
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two army brigades of cyber warriors. mr. mcgurk: we do have senator -- centers to lead this effort. i went to visit one. uae and the the area who want to fight isil online. malaysia and the u.k. have been a part of this. that is important because in the different areas of the world, the message is different. in the gulf, the message is more religiously oriented. in europe, they are working to counter images of kids eating ice cream in the sunshine. senator markey: there is no time left on the vote on the floor so i want to make sure he gets over. even though i am not sure we are
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voting the same way, i want to make sure he can go cast his vote. coming that. i started over on the floor so we could continue the hearing. let me ask -- we have talked about territorial gain and what happens afterwards. ofia has put a lot confidence in blocking the routes to turkey. what does assad do? what does russia do with regard to territorial gains? what will be their strategy? mr. mcgurk: we do not coordinate at all with the russians. we talked to them to the lictlict airspace -- deconf airspace to make sure there is no interference. the forces that we have worked
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with that have retaken territory, we have found that they can govern that territory fairly effectively. one problem we have in syria that we did not have in iraq is that the ability to get humanitarian assistance into some of these areas is extremely difficult. this gets into the issue with turkey and the border the closed. -- and the border being closed. we have identified the ngo's to e.t resources into mombag so far, we have not had any interference from the regime or the russians, particularly in the north where we have taken territory away from isil. sod --: as far as the us forces --
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mr. mcgurk: this gets complicated especially in the northwest. you have syrian democratic forces, and the kurds, and the syrian opposition forces. none of home really coordinate. this morning i was working on to getth some colleagues the leaders of all of these groups together. locally-based -- what is happening in this town or that down to try to quiet things down between groups. they all share the threat of isil. the most complicated thing from the strategic level within the country. at the local tactical level as well. we have to it in all dimensions. we are working in the northwest syrian area. we are trying to get the leaders of different groups together with us to talk about how we can
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better work together to get humanitarian aid flowing and to better organize forces against isil. rubio: i want to begin -- you spoke earlier about how isis begins to lose control over the territory, you will see an for them toility inspire a tax abroad. that seems to describe what we saw just two weeks ago in my home state of florida, in orlando. what we are saying -- what you isis will be that able to increase attacks like we saw in orlando. not just in the u.s. mr. mcgurk: i would not say it
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is more commonplace. propaganda has always talk -- has always called for attacks in our homeland. for peopled calling to come to syria. now they say, stay at home. this is a problem and that is why i have to be very candid. this is a threat that will be with us for years. foreign fighters come into syria. we are killing them by the thousands in syria they cannot get out. we are taking a way the notion of a caliphate. it will diminish the appeal of a. it does not mean that they cannot fight under another banner. senator rubio: i want to note inspiredrence between
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by isil and directed by isil. in my mind, there is no difference. distinction. inspiration is a way of directing these attacks as we saw here just a few weeks ago tragically. and then you talk also -- even if you were able to wipe them out on the data field the ideology that underpins isil will remain in place. when it comes to the issue of remain aria will fertile ground for a similar group to step up and fill that vacuum as well at -- as long as assad remains in power. that does not mean that everyone assad against a side -- that his presence there will
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allow another group to further that ideology. is that correct? regimeurk: the assad remains an incubator for extremist groups on both sides of the sectarian divide. that divide supercharges the extremists from both sides. young sunnis coming in from all of the world to fight in syria. it is something that is that canzing to syria also spot on attacks outside of syria. attackslso spawn outside of syria. senator rubio: his removal is a critical component. and so, to that point, the process we have to achieve that through geneva, is being described as something that is
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circling the drain. it is not going well. it has given russia cover to do thegs they have done like russian military engagement in syria which is not targeted at isis. it is targeted at non-isis groups. they particular -- they specifically targeted troops that were backed by the u.s. they are making an effort to wipe out those non-isis rebels. when russiait -- first came in, 70% of their attacks were mounted against opposition groups. we did see that flip so that they were focused on palm iraq -- palmyra and other areas. aw, they are conducting significant number of airstrikes in aleppo.
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that is a violation of the cessation of hostilities. we have two problems with this cessation of hostilities. one is the regime air force. , as far as we can tell, is a criminal enterprise dropping barrel bombs and attacking civilians under the .retext of attacking nusra as long as this is going on, it is a petri dish for extremist organizations. share thebio: i objective of taking mambage. the concerned about reliance we have placed on our alliance with the ypd. i think it is a strategy that perhaps was used -- was viewed
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as necessary given the title field that in the long-term creates significant complications. -- i am sorry, senator markey. last twoarkey: in the weeks, the ambassador -- the to work innominated iraq spoke to our committee. tactical successes against isis weather in iraq or libya will not print about the strategic defeat of isis unless tactical operations are done in ways that avoid harming civilian populations but proactively protect them from harm and also, that we undertake aggressive political interventions to negotiate agreements.
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in your testimony, you would knowledge to that the falluja committed abuses against civilians fleeing for their lives very it is also clear that adequate advanced reparations were not made to provide relief to tens of thousands of people who fled the fighting in falluja. i understand that after the fact, the iraqi government said it would hold offenders thatntable for abuses and the international community is stepping up humanitarian relief efforts. i am very concerned that after the fact, there may not be enough to convince sunni people that the iraqi government is on their side. i question is -- what are the iraqi government actions and what are the armed forces doing during military operations to identify and
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mitigate foreseeable risks that shia militia will engage in sectarian attacks on sunni civilians? there specific things that are being done to ensure that battle plans include proactive measures to prevent such attacks from happening? we are politicians on this panel. that is the one thing we are experts on. people will not forget if they thereot protected even if is a tactical victory in any individual city. mr. mcgurk: this is critically important. this involved many of my recent discussions in iraq. it is important to recognize that most of the atrocities committed against sunnis are committed by isil. isil held that population hostage. when they retook anbar province,
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isil massacred many people from the tribe there. but we have to make sure that when security operations come in from isil, areas that these lawless groups are not part of the operation. in the early days of falluja, we had a serious problem. there were about 24 hours where there were reports that were not credible but some were. there are now measures in place to mitigate the risk of this happening again. when you liberate a territory and civilians come out, you have to screen the population to ensure that isis terrorists have not infiltrated the population. group that isl part of the process. the local leaders have insisted on that. onour discussions in irbil
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how to do the mozilla campaign -- he mosul campaign senator markey: what did the government say to you? mr. mcgurk: it is supportive. the atrocities were a tarnish on the government, on the iraqi security forces and it is something that the prime minister recognizes. senator markey: did they agree that falluja was a mistake? mr. mcgurk: in the first 24 hours of the offense the movement egg -- offensive --ement against the city they immediately condemned those reports of of use. , the minister did of defense announced the arrest leaders in the army.
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they have to remain vigilant against this. when you have a lot of young people out on the streets with the guns, it is almost impossible to mitigate the risk of anything happening. but when you see something like in falluja -- how many people have been punished so far for what happened in falluja? 4-5 members of the iraqi army have been detained. the investigation has not been concluded so i do not know what the punishment was. we report that people have to be held accountable. when the reports are credible. what is theey: answer as to why these shia militia were allowed to be put in those positions? what is the answer you get from the government?
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mr. mcgurk: there is one particular unit, the popular liberation forces on the shia side that was operating totally outside of the law in some of the suburbs of falluja. i cannot say specifically why that unit was there but what i can say is that the government has taken measures to make sure it is addressed. senator markey: my time is going to run out but if those five individuals are not severely punished in a way that is public and clear, then there will be no discouragement. in the other cities that we are trying to take. that is your key political job. to make sure that there is a punishment for those people. otherwise, other militia will think they can do it, get a slap on the wrist, a have accomplished their eventual purpose but at that ther --
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purpose.geful gold that you have that these people be punished -- is that a goal that you have that these people be punished? mr. mcgurk: accountability. punishment under the law. process and be a people must be held accountable and punished when violations occur. murphy: thank you, mr. chairman. to be a global citizen but he is a graduate of -- a long-term rivalry. let me try to recover from that. thank you for being here and taking on what is wrinkly a
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nightmare of a job -- on what is nightmare of a job. we are lucky to have you at the helm. in response to a question from senator corker earlier, you were talking about our concerns about some of our coalition partners not being as involved as we would like, especially with the air campaign. i wanted to ask you a question relative to the reasons why some members of the coalition are not participating at the level we would expect. dhabi, at theabu end of last year, i received a brief from the ministry of defense. i was there with another member to oversee our campaign. the title of the brief, knowing that i was there to talk about the coalition fight against isil iran.""the threat from
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the entire brief was the work and other coalition members are doing to counter the expansion of the iranian influence. the what i understand, saudi's focus and the uae's focus on yemen has been one of the reasons why they have been less participatory in the air campaign against isil. speak to the worry that some of us have that this concentration hasfocus on yemen which been facilitated by u.s. support distracting resources from members of the coalition that we would like to be primarily used in the fight against isil. we complain about the saudi's and the uae with drawing support from the campaign against isil but too many of us, it appears that we have facilitated that
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withdrawal by assisting their air campaign against the houthis. get about that and how we our partners to focus first on isil. mr. mcgurk: there is no question that the conflict in yemen has pulled resources away from what was a real focus on the counter isil campaign. we haveone reason why focused in recent months on trying to establish a political process to end the conflict in yemen. haveartners in the saudi's to act when there is action on the border. they has been one of our closest partners illa terribly and they have been strong participants in the counter -- they have been one of ours closest partners beenarily and they have
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strong participants in the counter isil campaign. where we are right now -- we are in order ton yemen focus efforts on the counter isil campaign. as these multiple conflicts have been going on, it has reduced the resources that we have been able to focus on isil over the skies in syria. we have had for additional coalition members extend their health against isil. now takingplanes place are dropping their munitions because we have better intelligence and more partners on the ground fighting. resources in the skies as we continue to accelerate. i am hopeful that as the yemen political process moves forward
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that we will have more capacity brought to bear against isil. senator: i understand there are limitations on what you can talk about regarding the conflicts ypg.en the fsas and the for many of us, the reluctance we had to arm and train groups in the fight, is we have multiple fights going on. there are third and fourth and fifth orders that may involve groups that may have been funded by the united states fighting each other as the battlefield shrinks and perhaps we make progress against some of the
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groups that provide a buffer between organizations that are funded by the united states. speak to the fear that ultimately groups that are armed beay by the u.s. who may fighting the same enemy may ultimately be fighting each other if we are successful in our effort to downgrade the of some ofethality these existing groups. mr. mcgurk: we are successful at growng down these locally groups is where we have success on the ground. problemswe have between kurds and arabs. present and have itationships, we can tamp down. on the serious side, do not have anyone on the ground so it is difficult to tell what is happening. , particularlyple
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in the northwest to tell us what they think is happening. our ability to tamp down localized escalations is not what i would wish it was. in eastern syria where we do have platforms, we are developing a relationship base that has been very effective and that we hope we can build upon in this northwest part of the country where we have these localized competitions that we support and that we can work .ocally to deescalate that without people on the ground working these problems, it is very hard. it is very hard to do that by remote control. in iraq, we have people on the ground. , we haven syria platforms for developing close relationships. question, webio's recognize that we need an air of force to move down on raqqa, not just the kurds.
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but in northwest syria it is incredibly difficult. you have recognized the gordian knot that we have to deal with. more american presence on the ground, we risk local conflicts becoming more heated and problematic but many of us know the risks associated with putting more u.s. forces on the ground. this is a tough one to figure our way out of this. corker: you had earlier talked about manage -- mamage being the way to manage this. present the forces can be assimilated to deal with raqqa in the near term? mr. mcgurk: to senator rubio's
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question, it is an important one, we recognize we need an arab force to push on raqqa. i was there to talk about this operation which at that time was the biggest operation we were going to do in syria. town.ld be out of an arab we had a force of excel and -- 2500 were arab. it turned out to be successful. why it gave president obama the confidence to increase our special force presence. the ratio is reversed now. .t is mostly an arab force a much more limited role for the syrian kurds. this is a model we can use to push down on raqqa. areamericans there encouraged.
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we are having success and more arab leaders are coming to join this force. they want to be part of this push on raqqa. i think it is good but i would not underestimate how hard this is. to pull these forces together and make them a cohesive unit. we have hit on something that can work. corker: i will ask you in private. i know you do not want to lay out a timeframe for mosul or raqqa. i was in iraq in june -- last june. i look forward to having an off-line conversation with you. i know you are on your way to the white house. i do not know the audience. i would say again though that the fact that assad is still
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killing people the day after humanitarian aid is being delivered does the question of what kind of force needs to be pressed against him to stifle the civil war. be dealtever going to with appropriately until that ends. it is evident that russia and iran have not had the effect on assad that was contemplated when the cessation began. i hope you can speak to me after today a little bit more about the thinking was that regard. we thank you for your service to our country. the record will be open until thursday if you could answer promptly with written answers the questions that have been submitted. with that, the meeting is adjourned. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit]
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>> here on c-span, washington journal is next. at 10:00 on newsmakers, a look at the u.s. response to the zika virus. our guest is the head of the national institute for allergy and infectious diseases. the head of the house benghazi organization releases their report. journal,s washington we get the latest on the 2016 presidential campaign with a reporter from the weekly
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standard and with a reporter from the nation magazine. after that, jj mesmeric talks talks about the most fragile nationstates around the world. ♪ host: good morning on this holiday weekend. it is july 3. we will talk about the latest turns on the road to the white house. we will also break down a new report on fragile nations in the world. unifyinglso talk about patriotism in these united states. hillary clinton and donald trump have toured through the rust belt to talk about jobs and the economy. ohio, michigan, illinois and wisconsin are being viewed as the


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