John Kerry: ISIS 'not 10 feet tall'

Story highlights

  • Kerry pushed back against criticism that ISIS is expanding its reach and that the U.S. strategy is failing
  • He said the spead of ISIS into other countries comes from terrorists already in those places pledging loyalty to the terror group

Washington (CNN)Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday vowed that the world will defeat ISIS -- saying the terrorist group is not all-powerful.

"ISIS is not 10 feet tall," Kerry said in an interview on NBC's "Today" show.
Speaking from Abu Dhabi where he is meeting with Arab leaders in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks, Kerry said the coalition against ISIS has been ramping up efforts and will continue to do so.
    "There is a very clear focus by everybody, there is a united front, and I am absolutely convinced that Daesh will be defeated and there will be increased steps taken in order to do so," Kerry said, using another name for ISIS. "People need to not panic. There is a strategy in place that is growing by the day."
    Kerry pushed back against criticism that ISIS is expanding its reach and that the U.S. strategy against the terrorist group is failing. He said the coalition that is fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq has only been in place for one year and in that time it has already shrunk ISIS' territory by one-quarter.
    He said the apparent spread of ISIS into other countries comes from terrorists already in those places pledging loyalty to ISIS and in some cases traveling to Syria to receive training. Fighting them in the Middle East, then, is essential, he said.
    He said President Barack Obama has been taking steps to increase the U.S. effort in Syria and Iraq, including by adding special forces and "additional steps" Kerry said he could not divulge in public.
    But Kerry acknowledged the effort is taking time.
    "I don't think anybody believes it's happening fast enough," Kerry said when asked about criticism even from the President's own party. "We are escalating our steps...We have been focused on attacking them in Syria and Iraq and I am convinced that will increase in the coming days."