— -- The U.S. is “going to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL the same way we have gone after al Qaeda,” President Obama said of the terrorist group that recently took credit for beheading American journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley.
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The militant group, also known as ISIS, “poses a long-term threat to the safety and security of NATO members,” Obama said at a press conference in Newport, Wales. “We have a critical role to play in rolling back this savage organization.”
The president advocated systematically “taking the fight to” ISIS in much the same way the U.S. combated al Qaeda.
“You initially push them back, you systematically degrade their capabilities, you narrow their scope of action, you slowly shrink the space, the territory that they control, you take out their leadership, and over time, they are not able to conduct the same kinds of terrorist attacks that they once could,” Obama said, adding that U.S. combat troops would not be deployed to the region.
“I don’t think that’s necessary for us to accomplish our goal,” he said. Instead, the American military will work to strengthen Iraqi and Syrian forces already on the ground.
Obama also called for a “strategic communications effort so that we are discouraging people from thinking that [ISIS] represents a state, much less a caliphate.”
“That’s not what Islam is about,” he added.
Obama, in Wales for a NATO summit, joined British Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday in pressing the alliance to stand firm against ISIS’ “brutal and poisonous extremism.”
In a London Times Op-Ed, the leaders panned an “isolationist approach” and vowed that America and Britain “will not be cowed” by ISIS.
“Whether it is regional aggression going unchecked or the prospect that foreign fighters could return from Iraq and Syria to pose a threat in our countries, the problems we face today threaten the security of British and American people,” they wrote.
Obama, who has authorized over 100 airstrikes to aid Iraqi and Kurdish forces combating ISIS in Iraq, last week acknowledged “we don’t have a strategy yet” to confront the militant group in neighboring Syria.
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