Islamic State is on the defensive, says Obama

Washington: The dreaded Islamic State terror group is now on the defensive in Syria and Iraq, President Barack Obama said on Thursday reiterating that the US and its allies are focused on dismantling and destroying the IS network.

“Today, on the ground in Syria and in Iraq, IS is on the defensive. Our 66-member coalition, including Arab partners, is on the offensive. We have momentum, and we intend to keep that momentum,” Obama said after his meeting with top national security team at CIA headquarters.

Obama said the recent terrorist attacks from Brussels to Istanbul to Iraq, where IS slaughtered children watching football have shown that these depraved terrorists still have the ability to inflict horrific violence on the innocent, to the revulsion of the entire world.

“With attacks likes these, IS hopes to weaken our collective resolve. Once again, they have failed. Their barbarism only stiffens our unity and determination to wipe this vile terrorist organisation off the face of the Earth.

“Our air campaign — more than 11,500 strikes so far — continues to pound IS targets. It’s harder than ever for them to move and for them to mass forces. When they try, we take them out. IS still has managed to advance in some areas of Syria and Iraq, but it has not had a single successful major offensive operation on the ground there since last summer. So it’s been nearly a year since they were able to mount a major successful offensive operation,” he said.

The US and its allies continue to take out their leaders, their commanders and those plotting terrorist attacks.

For IS’ leadership, it has been a bad few months, the US President said, adding that the IS core in Syria and Iraq continues to shrink.

“Their ranks of fighters are estimated to be at the lowest levels in about two years, and more and more of them are realising that their cause is lost. Our cyber operations are disrupting their command-and-control and communications.

“We continue to target IS’ financial infrastructure, including its oil wells, refineries and supply lines. We’ve reduced their oil production and their oil revenue. And every dollar we deny them means one less dollar to pay their fighters and to fund their terror,” Obama said.

Obama said the only way to truly destroy IS is to end the Syrian civil war that it has exploited and that the US will continue to work for a diplomatic end to the conflict.

“In the face of terrorists who try to spread panic, we have to refuse to give in to fear. We have to stay true to our values of liberty and diversity and openness. In the face of madmen who only know how to kill, we re going to keep on living our lives and trying to lift people up. We go to our stadiums. We cheer for our teams. We thrive in our cities. We run our races, as they will next week in Boston,” he said.

“In other words, we carry on. Terrorists like IS and al-Qaeda, they can’t destroy a great nation like the United States of America,” Obama said.

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