The G-20 meeting in Antalya, Turkey, that ended today was supposed to address the economy. But the Nov. 13 terrorist attack on Paris changed that agenda, and President Barack Obama pledged today to redouble efforts against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. ISIL took credit for the attacks on Paris that killed 129 people and wounded more than 350. Yesterday, French aircraft bombed ISIL’s quasi-capital city of Raqqa in Syria.
“We’re working closely with our French partners as they pursue their investigations and track down suspects,” the president said during a news conference. “France is already a strong counterterrorism partner, and today we’re announcing a new agreement. We’re streamlining the process by which we share intelligence and operational military information with France.”
Paris was just the latest attack; ISIL hit Beirut last week and Turkey last month. The terror group also claimed to have planted a bomb aboard a Russian airliner that crashed in Sinai.
“Here at the G-20, our nations have sent an unmistakable message: that we are united against this threat,” Obama said. “ISIL is the face of evil. Our goal, as I’ve said many times, is to degrade and ultimately destroy this barbaric terrorist organization.”
Obama said the effort will use all elements of power to take out the group: military, diplomatic, law enforcement and economic. He cautioned that this strategy will take time to be effective.
Taking Back Significant Territory
“There will be setbacks and there will be successes,” he said. “The terrible events in Paris were obviously a terrible and sickening setback. Even as we grieve with our French friends, however, we can’t lose sight that there has been progress being made.” Airstrikes and allies on the ground have taken back significant territory in both Iraq and Syria from ISIL, he noted.
“We’ve seen that when we have an effective partner on the ground, ISIL can [be] and is pushed back, so local forces in Iraq, backed by coalition air power, recently liberated Sinjar,” he said. “Iraqi forces are fighting to take back Ramadi. In Syria, ISIL has been pushed back from much of the border region with Turkey. We’ve stepped up our support of opposition forces who are working to cut off supply lines to ISIL strongholds in and around Raqqa.”
But this must be sustained, the president said. “More nations need to step up with the resources that this fight demands,” he added.
The G-20 nations agreed to strengthen border controls, share more information and step up efforts to prevent the flow of foreign fighters in and out of Syria and Iraq.
Enormous Pressure on ISIL
“We have a military strategy that involves putting enormous pressure on ISIL through airstrikes, that has put assistance and training on the ground with Iraqi forces,” Obama said. “We’re now working with Syrian forces as well to squeeze ISIL, cut off their supply lines.” The president noted success from authorizing additional U.S. special operations forces on the ground to work with Syrian and Iraqi forces against ISIL.
The United States is reaching out to all in the anti-ISIL effort, the president said. He is reaching out to Russia and Iran, who are supporting the Bashar Assad regime in Syria, explaining “that ultimately, an organization like ISIL is the greatest danger to them, as well as to us.”
Obama added, “There will be an intensification of the strategy we put forward, but the strategy that we are putting forward is the strategy that ultimately is going to work.”
(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)