Washington: US President Barack Obama today reviewed the anti-ISIS strategy with his army commanders and announced to send his Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to the Middle East to seek enhanced support from the countries in the region against this terrorist organisation.
“This continues to be a difficult fight. ISIS is dug in, including in urban areas and they hide behind civilians, using defenseless men, women and children as human shields. So, even as we’re relentless, we have to be smart, targeting ISIS surgically with precision,” Obama told reporters at Pentagon after the meeting with army commanders and national security advisors.
Obama said the US and its allies has in recent weeks unleashed a new wave of strikes on ISIS’s lifeline, on their oil infrastructure, destroying hundreds of their tanker trucks, wells and refineries.
“We are going to keep on hammering those. ISIS also continues to lose territory in Iraq. ISIS had already lost across Kirkuk province and at Tikrit; more recently, ISIS lost at Sinjar, losing a strategic highway. ISIS lost at Baiji with its oil refinery,” he said, adding that the terror group has so far lost 40 per cent of the areas it once controlled in Iraq, and it will lose more.
Recognising that progress needs to keep coming faster, Obama said: “Just as the US is doing more in this fight, just as its allies, France, Germany and the United Kingdom, Australia and Italy are doing more, so must others.
“And that is why I have asked Secretary Carter to go to the Middle East — he’ll depart right after this press briefing — to work with our coalition partners on securing more military contributions to this fight,” he said.
“On the diplomatic front, Secretary (of State, John) Kerry will be in Russia tomorrow, as we continue to work, as part of the Vienna process, to end the Syrian civil war,” he said.
“The President would not be satisfied unless ISIS is defeated and degraded,” the White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters later at his daily news conference.