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>> I recognize there are many pressing challenges in the Middle East, but defeating ISIS is the United States' number one goal in the region.>> Addressing a 68 nation summit on defeating Islamic State, US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, on Wednesday, signalling a more aggressive commitment of US power under President Donald Trump to bring down ISIS and to stabilize areas freed from its control.
>> I can say the United States will increase our pressure on ISIS and Al Qaeda. And we'll work to establish interim zones of stability through cease-fires to allow refugees to go home.>> The phrase interim zones of stability evoking the safe zones or no-fly zones in Syria, long called for by lawmakers such as Senator John McCain and even 2016 rival, Hillary Clinton.
But strenuously avoided by Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama. Analyst saying setting up safety zones could demand more US forces on the ground. The US has a contingent of nearly 1,000 advisors in Syria and several times that number in Iraq. But those forces have so far taken a backseat role in the fight, the US favoring air strikes to hit ISIS.
>> The expansion of ISIS has necessitated a large-scale military response. And our offensive measures are reclaiming areas in Iraq and Syria, which ISIS has had a large and destructive footprint. Our end goal in this phase is the regional elimination of ISIS through military force.>> Zones of stability could also risk potential conflict with Russia, which has planes in the air in Syria in support of President Bashar al Assad.
Tillerson adding the US and its allies would not be, quote, in the business of nation building or reconstruction. Islamic State has been losing ground in both Iraq and Syria, forces backed by the US advancing on the group's stronghold in Mosul, Iraq, and Raqqa, in Syria.