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US-led international coalition will destroy IS: Top officials

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Washington (Oct 30, 2014): The US-led international coalition of more than 60 countries against the Islamic State will degrade and ultimately destroy the terror group, a top Obama Administration official has said.

"I do believe we will degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL with our coalition of over 60 countries," National Security Advisor Susan Rice said in an interview at the Washington Ideas Forum.

"Let's think about what that end state looks like. First of all, it means that ISIL, which currently poses a serious threat to not only Iraq and Syria and the neighboring countries, but potentially to the United States and Europe, will no longer have a functional safe haven in that critical region," she said.

Stressing that the group will no longer be in a position to terrorise and destabilise both those countries but the neighboring countries as well, Rice said that denying Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), or the Islamic State as it is known across the globe, a safe haven is a critical strategic objective.

"Because as we've seen from such safe havens to which foreign fighters and other are attracted, they can export terrorism and other forms of violence. So that in itself is a critical objective," Rice said.

"That will not in and of itself resolve the problem of Syria. It will substantially create breathing space for the new Iraqi government and the leadership there to stabilise and unify that country, which is facing its own sectarian, economic and other challenges. So it takes a critical impediment off the table for Iraq, but it does, as you acknowledge, leave a challenge in Syria," she said.

The conflict in Syria began over three years ago when peaceful protestors challenged the Assad regime that responded with overwhelming and indiscriminate violence, which it has sustained, she noted.

"The political issues that remain at the heart of the Syrian conflict will endure. The majority of the Sunni population has largely been excluded from power. There is no democratic process. You have an illegitimate and exceedingly violent leadership that has created conditions not only that have been so harmful to the population, but have made it a very attractive magnet for terrorists," she said.

Rice argued that even if the "magnet" is eliminated the US will still need to see a political solution in Syria and that has been America's view all along. There is ultimately not a military solution to the conflict there, she emphasised.

Any solution in Syria, she reiterated would require its President, Bashar al-Assad, to go.

"It will ultimately have to result in Assad's departure. Because given the violence that he has perpetrated and given the divisions that are now, I believe, unbridgeable ultimately, you may have a transition period of some sort, but Assad's departure is going to be critical for there to be lasting stability in Syria," Rice said adding that this was one of the main reasons that US supported the moderate Syrian opposition.