Obama Claims US Hitting ISIS Harder than Ever
Speaking at the Pentagon after a briefing from his national security team, Obama noted that Islamic State had not waged a “single successful major offensive operation” since 2014 in either of the countries where it holds territory, losing up to 40% of its footprint in Iraq and thousands of square miles in Syria.
In November, the U.S. dropped more bombs on Islamic State targets than in any other month, while U.S. forces working with local partners have taken out senior leaders of the extremist group, also called ISIL or ISIS.
“ISIL leaders cannot hide, and our next message to them is simple: you are next,” Obama said.
The update was another effort by Obama to stress his long-term and limited strategy against Islamic State amid calls to send more ground troops to defeat the group. Since the San Bernardino attack, Obama has been under pressure to convince Americans that he is doing everything he can to keep them safe.
In Iraq and Syria, an intensified military strategy is key, Obama said, because “as we squeeze its heart,” it is harder for Islamic State to “pump its terror and propaganda to the rest of the world.”
“More people are seeing ISIL for the thugs and the thieves and the killers that they are,” he said.
But the president acknowledged that progress needs to come faster, and said diplomatic efforts are just as critical in seeking to end the 5-year-old civil war in Syria that has complicated the fight there.