isis

Tillerson says Arab blockade of Qatar hurting anti-ISIS fight

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Friday the isolation of Qatar by Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, is a "hindrance" to coalition efforts against ISIS.

"We ask that there be no further escalation by the parties in the region," Tillerson said.

A Pentagon spokesperson said ongoing military operations weren't currently being hampered but the situation had the potential to harm more long-term assignments.

“While current operations from Al Udeid Air Base have not been interrupted or curtailed, the evolving situation is hindering our ability to plan for longer-term military operations," Capt. Jeff Davis said. "Qatar remains critical for coalition air operations in the fight against ISIS and around the region.”

Tillerson called on the nations taking part in the Saudi-led operation to "ease" the blockade against Qatar due to the hindrance of U.S. military and financial interests as well as "unintended" humanitarian consequences. He identified food shortages, families being separated and children being pulled out of school as being among the hardships.

Tillerson said the U.S. was supporting efforts by Kuwait to broker a peaceful end to the crisis -- but he also stressed that Qatar also has a role to play in ending the blockade.

"We call on Qatar to be responsive to the concerns of its neighbors," Tillerson said, adding the nation must step up its fight against terrorism, saying the nation "must do more and must do it more quickly."