Obama says military hitting ISIS harder than ever

2015-12-14 22:49
President Barack Obama pauses while speaking about the fight against the ISIS after a National Security Council meeting. (Evan Vucci, AP)

President Barack Obama pauses while speaking about the fight against the ISIS after a National Security Council meeting. (Evan Vucci, AP)

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Washington - President Barack Obama on Monday said the US-led coalition is making progress against Islamic State militants in both Iraq and Syria, as he delivered an update on the campaign aimed at reassuring Americans worried about the spread of extremism-fuel terrorism.

"We are hitting ISIL [ISIS] harder than ever," Obama said, using the shorthand for the Islamic State group. Obama said airstrikes had increased and the coalition had successfully knocked out key figures in the group's leadership "one by one."

"The point is, ISIL [ISIS] leaders cannot hide and our next message to them is simple: 'You are next.'" Obama said.

The tough talk came after Obama met with this top national security advisers at the Pentagon. The rare meeting outside the White House was part of weeklong push to explain his strategy for stopping the Islamic State group abroad and its sympathisers at home.

Obama is also slated to attend a briefing at the National Counter-terrorism Centre later in the week.

The high-profile visits to agencies charged with keeping the US safe follow a televised address December 6 that aimed to reassure the public but that critics said failed to do the job.

"The American people are smart enough to know when something is working or not, and it's obvious that the president's current strategy isn't working," Republican House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said in a statement released on Monday. "Far from being contained - much less defeated - ISIS has now extended the reach of its terror farther than ever before."

ISIS is another acronym for the group.

Obama is also hoping to draw a contrast with Donald Trump and his inflammatory remarks about Muslims, which the Obama administration has said endangers US national security.

"Terrorists like ISIL are trying to divide us along lines of religion and background," Obama said in his weekly address. "That's how they stoke fear. That's how they recruit."

This week, he said, "we'll move forward on all fronts."

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