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Obama Vows to Crush ISIS but Warns its Networks would Continue to Operate | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a statement after attending a National Security Council meeting on the counter-ISIS campaign at the Pentagon in Washington, Dec. 14, 2015. Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

Washington-U.S. President Barack Obama has made a rare visit to the Pentagon where he held a press conference, vowing to crush ISIS.

ISIS is “inevitably going to be defeated,” Obama said. But he predicted that the terrorist networks it spawns are likely to continue trying to launch assaults after the organizations loses its major strongholds in Iraq and Syria.

Obama held the press conference after meeting with Defense Secretary Ashton Carter. He was briefed by his top national security advisers on the expanding war against ISIS in Iraq, Syria and most recently Libya.

Agence France Presse quoted Obama as saying that the U.S.-led coalition would continue to aggressively target the jihadists “across every front.”

Obama said he was confident that ISIS would continue to lose territory as Iraqi and Syrian forces, backed by American air power, close in on Mosul, Raqqa and strongholds near the Turkish border.

Even ISIS’ “leaders know they’re going to keep losing.”

But the decline of ISIS “in Syria and Iraq appears to be causing it to shift to tactics that we’ve seen before — an even greater emphasis on encouraging high-profile terrorist attacks, including in the United States,” Obama warned.

In his press conference, the U.S. president also criticized his Russian counterpart, expressing doubt that Vladimir Putin was willing to cooperate with Washington to resolve the Syrian conflict.

“I’m not confident that we can trust the Russians or Vladimir Putin,” Obama said. “Which is why we have to test whether or not we can get an actual cessation of hostilities.”

If the renewed ceasefire does not stick, Obama said “Russia will have shown itself very clearly to be an irresponsible actor on the world stage that is supporting a murderous regime, and will have to answer to that on the international stage.”

“Russia may not be able to get there, either because they don’t want to, or because they don’t have sufficient influence over (Bashar) Assad. And, that’s what we’re going to test,” Obama said.

On Monday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged Russia and the Assad regime to exercise “self-restraint” in the military operation in Aleppo.

But Moscow disregarded his appeal and announced that it would stick to its alliance with the regime “to destroy the terrorist groups in Syria.”