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Obama Hails Momentum in Fight against ISIS | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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U.S. President Barack Obama speaks following a meeting with his National Security Council at CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia April 13, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

President Barack Obama said on Wednesday the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq has achieved significant progress, putting the militant group on the defensive, shrinking its territory and striking key leaders.

“Every day, ISIL leaders wake up and understand that it could be their last,” Obama said, using an alternate acronym for the extremist group.

After meeting with his national security team at Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) headquarters in Northern Virginia, Obama said it had been a “few bad months” for ISIS as the U.S.-led military coalition has been pushing back the militants around their strongholds of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria and taking out its leadership.

“We have momentum and we intend to keep that momentum,” Obama added.

“The ISIL core in Syria and Iraq continues to shrink. We are focused, and we are going to win.”

The campaign has cut supply lines and financing for the group and shrunk its territory. But Obama said more work needed to be done to help communities recover.

“We will continue to assist Iraq and so must the entire world as it works to stabilize liberated areas and promote governance and development that is inclusive of all Iraqi communities,” he said.

He noted an “uptick” in ISIS fighters heading to Libya and pledged to help the country’s “new and nascent” government.

There have been more than 11,500 air strikes so far targeting ISIS in Syria and Iraq, and the coalition has killed or captured several key leaders in the group.

“In the days and weeks ahead, we intend to take out more,” Obama said.

Obama confirmed the United States’ willingness to do what it could to help advance U.N.-led peace talks in Geneva on Syria’s political future, noting an accord between President Bashar al-Assad’s government and the Syrian opposition had held for about six weeks, but remained tenuous and under strain.

He said the future of Syria would be on the agenda for the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council meeting next week in Riyadh, which he plans to attend.

Obama’s comments at the CIA came the week before he travels to Saudi Arabia for a summit with Persian Gulf leaders focused largely on the threat from the ISIS. Previewing his request to countries

attending that summit, Obama said “the entire world” must step up to help Iraq restore stability “so that ISIL cannot return.”