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By Eun Kyung Kim

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said America is “at war against” the Islamic terrorists based in Iraq and Syria, and that the United States should expect a steady, drawn-out campaign similar to its effort against al Qaeda.

“What we are doing is engaging the campaign to degrade and ultimately destroy this monstrous group,” Samantha Power said in an exclusive interview Thursday with TODAY’s Matt Lauer. “To the extent we’ve been at war with al Qaeda over these many years, that is the kind of effort you will see against this over time.”

The United States and a group of Arab allies earlier this week launched airstrikes against Syrian targets related to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL. Power defended the strikes: “We’re at war against the group of ISIL.”

On the campaign against Islamic terrorists, Power also spoke about:

  • U.S. coordination with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad over the airstrikes: Syria, she said, is not a reliable partner. "You're committing terror against your people, you’re the ones using chemical weapons and barrel bombs, etc. so we didn’t ask for permission — we just offered a notification.”
  • The suffering of Syrian civilians: “The vast majority of Syrian people have wanted this war to end for a very long end. They can’t tolerate the leadership of somebody who would use chemical weapons against children, barrel bombs, etc.”

Power also addressed U.N. efforts against the global threat of the Ebola virus, which could expand to 1.5 million cases by January, according to estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • On the lack of other nations willing to help: “A lot of people want to check the box and say we gave at the office, we’ve written a check and we’re saying, 'we need doctors, we need nurses, we need logisticians, we need engineers.'"
  • On a U.N. resolution signed by more than 100 nations: “We are now calling on those 134 countries to cough up more than checking the box and co-sponsoring the resolution but a willingness to actually join us.”