US to raise military and diplomatic pressure on ISIS

President Obama said the US will use a four-pronged approach against the Islamic State group.

AP Photo/Evan Vucci
President Barack Obama, accompanied by Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Commander of U.S. Central Command Gen. Lloyd Austin, speaks at the Pentagon, Monday about the fight against the Islamic State group following a National Security Council meeting.

After a series of Islamic State-linked attacks struck locations around the world over the last several months, President Obama said on Monday the United States has already begun an uptick in counter-strikes against the group.

The president’s comments were made from the Pentagon following a morning meeting with national security advisors where he laid out a four-pronged strategy to increase US and international military pressure against Islamic State (IS), a plan that “is moving forward with a great sense of urgency.”

The approach includes disrupting IS’s financing and propaganda networks, training Iraq and Syrian ground forces, doubling down on diplomatic efforts between the Assad regime and rebel fighters to end the Syrian civil war, and “hunting down terrorists,” Mr. Obama said.

"We are hitting ISIL harder than ever," the president said, using the government’s acronym for Islamic State. "As we squeeze its heart, we'll make it harder for ISIL to pump its terror and propaganda to the rest of the world."

The president spoke of military undertakings launched during the last several months, including assassinating some of Islamic State's top leaders and increasing the number of missile strikes in IS-held territory and Libya.

The announcement by Mr. Obama comes as more Western countries join an international coalition targeting the Islamic militants, amid an increasingly complex political scenario with Russian military strikes targeting Syrian rebels supported by the West.

The US-led coalition has hit 9,000 ISIS targets since its military campaign began, with the most number of airstrikes taking place in November, the president said.

Obama indicated the surge in strikes from drones, coalition aircraft, and warplanes has help hold back Islamic State offensives. 

"ISIL leaders cannot hide, and our message to them is simple: you are next," the president said. "Since this summer, ISIL has not had a single successful major offensive operation on the ground in either Syria or Iraq."

Obama said coalition strikes have been complicated by the fact IS has been embedded in Iraq and Syria for years, using civilians as human shields.

"This continues to be a difficult fight," Mr. Obama said. "We recognize that progress needs to keep coming faster."

The president has come under fire from Republicans since the Nov. 13 Paris attacks killed 130 people and the San Bernardino shootings in early December killed 14 more. Both attacked appear to have some links to IS.

France, Germany, Belgium Kuwait, Tunisia, Canada, Italy, and the United Kingdom have all have increased efforts in recent months to counteract IS’s gains, through airstrikes, training and intelligence.

Coalition forces have launched 5,826 strikes in Iraq and 3,037 in Syria, according to the White House. More recent military action has destroyed 75 targets. President Obama said IS has already lost about 40 percent of territory it once held. 

The president will also be sending US Defense Secretary Ash Carter to the Middle East this week, beginning with a stop in Turkey, while Secretary of State John Kerry plans to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the threat of IS, according to CBS News

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to US to raise military and diplomatic pressure on ISIS
Read this article in
https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/USA-Update/2015/1214/US-to-raise-military-and-diplomatic-pressure-on-ISIS
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today
https://www.csmonitor.com/subscribe