The U.S. intends to “degrade and destroy” the Syrian-based jihad army ISIS until only remnants are left, President Barack Obama told reporters during an early press conference in the Baltic republic of Estonia.
The group should be reduced “until it is a manageable problem,” partly because it is part of a violent movement that is retarding economic progress throughout the Arab Muslim world, he said.
But he also suggested that he would seek some approval from Congress for any use of U.S. military force against the jihadi group’s operations in Syria.
His statement came one day after the jihadi army released a second video showing how one if its jihadis decapitated a second American journalist. “Americans are repulsed by their barbarism [and] we will not be intimidated,” Obama said. The garish murder will “stiffen our resolve,” he said.
The jihadi army has captured most of Iraq that is populated by the country’s minority of Sunni-style Muslims, and much of northern Syria. The army is called the “Islamic State in Syria and the Levant” or the “Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.” Obama used both names in his press conference.
Obama also defended his much-criticized comments from last week, when he told reporters at a White House press conference that “we don’t have a strategy” for dealing with ISIS.
Those comments generated a storm of criticism from let-wing sites, such as MSNBC and The New York Times, as well as from mainstream media.
“Last week, when this question was asked, I was specifically referring to the possibility of a military strategy inside of Syria that might require congressional approval,” he said.
“It is very important, from my perspective, that when we send our pilots in to do a job, we know that this is mission that is going to work, we’re very clear on what our missions are, what our targets are, that we’ve made the case to Congress, that we’ve made the case to the American people.”
The U.S. already is implementing its strategy of creating a new Iraqi government that has the support of the Sunni tribes, as well as of the majority of Iraqis, who are Shia Muslims. That unified government can lead a counter-offensive against the jihadi army, he said.
Obama also linked his push-back against the jihad army to his long-standing and failed efforts to revive the moribund Arab region. “This particular brand of extremism is first and foremost, destructive of the Muslim world,” he said.
Muslim and Arab countries “are falling behind because of this very small, narrow and very dangerous” segment, he said, adding “we’ve got to combat it.”