News / USA

    Obama Orders National Security Team to Ramp Up Fight Against IS

    Obama: Truce Could End Chaos in Syriai
    February 26, 2016 5:30 AM
    President Barack Obama says if the conflicting parties in Syria halt all violence as agreed, it could be a first step toward ending the chaos there. But he says a lasting peace in Syria is impossible as long as President Bashar al-Assad stays in power. After a meeting with his National Security Council late Thursday, Obama also said a concerted allied effort has weakened Islamic State's power and influence in the region. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Related video report by Zlatica Hoke
    Mary Alice Salinas

    U.S. President Barack Obama says although the U.S.-led effort to combat Islamic State has made progress, the fight “remains difficult” and he has instructed his security team to ramp up efforts.

    He said the situation in Syria and Iraq is "one of the most complex the world has seen in recent times." He noted that Islamic State "is entrenched, including in urban areas, using civilians as human shields."

    He added the war in Syria is "a proxy war between regional powers, reflecting deep sectarian rivalries."

    Obama made his comments after meeting with top security officials at the State Department Thursday. He said there are indications the flow of foreign fighters into Syria seems to be slowing down, making it harder for the militants to replenish their ranks.

    Referring to the U.S.-Russian cease-fire set to take effect in Syria, Obama said the United States will do everything it can to help the agreement hold.

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday hosted a meeting in Moscow of the Russian-Arab Cooperation forum, where he pledged that the gathering would focus on ending the conflict in Syria.

    And in Syria, despite the looming cease-fire, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports that Russian airstrikes were continuing against rebel-held areas east of Damascus Friday. The agreement does not include Syrian strikes on Islamic State or the al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front.

    President Barack Obama, center, followed by Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and Defense Secretary Ash Carter right, walks to a podium to speak to media after a meeting of his National Security Council (NSC) at the State Department in Washington, Feb.
    President Barack Obama, center, followed by Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and Defense Secretary Ash Carter right, walks to a podium to speak to media after a meeting of his National Security Council (NSC) at the State Department in Washington, Feb.

    More funds to fight IS

    Secretary of Defense Ash Carter told the Congressional House Appropriations Committee Thursday the United States is increasing its funding for the battle against Islamic State in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and parts of Africa. He said his department is requesting $7.5 billion, a 50 percent increase over last year, to fight the militant organization.

    Carter said the fight would encompass not just land, air and sea, but also space and cyberspace. Briefly, he confirmed reports that the military's Cyber Command unit has recently begun a new cyberwarfare campaign against Islamic State, but declined to give details in a public setting.

    In recent months the intensification effort against Islamic State has included the use of additional U.S. special expeditionary forces to carry out raids, free hostages, capture IS leaders and gather intelligence.

    The U.S. has said the fighting in Syria between troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and rebels fighting to oust him has allowed Islamic State to flourish amid the chaos and instability. But Obama seems cautious about whether the cease-fire deal will hold up. 

    “If implemented, and that’s a significant if, this cessation could reduce the violence and get more food and aid to Syrians who are suffering and desperately needed.  It could save lives.”

    The White House has accused Putin of fueling the civil war by helping to prop up the Assad government with airstrikes targeting opposition rebels.

    The cessation agreement calls for an end to attacks and aerial bombardment and for the flow of humanitarian aid to areas under siege. 

    "A lot of that is going to depend on whether the Syrian regime, Russia, and their allies live up to their commitments," Obama said. "The coming days will be critical, and the world will be watching."

    Secretary of State John Kerry gestures during a joint press conference with his Jordanian counterpart Nasser Judeh (unseen) in Amman, Jordan, Feb. 21, 2016.
    Secretary of State John Kerry gestures during a joint press conference with his Jordanian counterpart Nasser Judeh (unseen) in Amman, Jordan, Feb. 21, 2016.

    Kerry: Syrian 'slaughter' continues

    Earlier Thursday, lawmakers questioned Secretary of State John Kerry repeatedly about U.S. efforts to help end the fighting and humanitarian crisis in Syria during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing.
    He said the "slaughter" of innocent people was still occurring in Syria, where bombs had been dropped on hospitals and schools.
    “That has obviously occurred which is why we have pushed so hard to try to get a cessation of hostilities,” said Kerry.
    The cease-fire plan is part of a broader effort, backed by the U.S. and other members of the International Syria Support Group, to help foster a political transition that could help stabilize Syria and decrease threats from Islamic State and other terrorist groups.
    Stronger than al-Qaida

    On the fight against IS, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said the militant group's estimated strength now exceeds that globally of al-Qaida.
    "ISIL, including its eight established and several more emerging branches, has become the preeminent global terrorist threat," Clapper told the House Intelligence Committee on Worldwide Threats.
    VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins contributed to this report.

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    Comment Sorting
    by: anynmous from: usa
    February 26, 2016 1:43 AM
    I hope that 2016 will be over without any serious incidents or political disaster because it is proof that Obama can not handle any situation effectively . Despite isis barbaric problem that continue to kill ,beheaded, burning death, Obama who is good in talking but no action. he is giving advice to intensify the war and ignore the fact that this problem existed for three years and the damage inflicted by isis is beyond repairs because his policy

    by: williweb from: Phoenix Arizona USA
    February 25, 2016 10:49 PM
    Even though many countries contributed to the mayhem in the Middle East, the koran created IS. It will be destroyed for now, but islam must be reformed to comply with the norms of the civilized world. They must admit that there will not be a worldwide caliphate. This the 21st Century, not the 7th.

    by: AHMED from: INDIA
    February 25, 2016 8:39 PM
    Who created IS/Daesh, Nusrat Front. These Sponsors of Terrorism are responsible for killing of innocent and helpless Syrians in miserable conditions.
    We are not willing to learn from our Mistakes and we are continue to repeat same mistake. To consume time we make some experience on Third World Countries. What we did in Libya, history in front of us. Peoples were happy with Qaddafi but USA was not happy with Qaddafi so he removed with the help of Saudi Arab. What is going on in Libya USA & Saudi Arab are responsible.
    This is funny story, develop Terrorist Group with money and training. Then spend money to dismantle it. Good activity for rich and powerful countries.
    In Response

    by: meanbill from: USA
    February 26, 2016 10:10 AM
    Hey AHMED _ The ISIL terrorists would never had existed if the US hadn't armed and trained those tens of thousands of foreign Sunni Muslim crazies to wage Jihad war on Assad and Syria, [that later joined with the ISIL and al-Qaeda terrorists? .. [And worst of all?] .. For 7 years this US commander in chief Obama misdirected most all US military resources to contain Syria, Libya, Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, and Yemen, instead of using all US military resources in a war on the terrorists to defeat them? .. The terrorists have become a real world power under Obama, attacking people and countries all over the world, while Obama keeps pivoting US military resources elsewhere around the world, [everywhere where there is nobody to fight? .. Strange isn't it?

    by: meanbill from: USA
    February 25, 2016 6:35 PM
    [Where did the ISIL terrorists come from?] .. Beginning in 2011 the US recruited tens of thousands of Sunni Muslim extremists, fanatics and insane, and armed and trained them in Turkey and Jordan to wage Jihad war on the Shia Muslim led government of Assad and Syria, to replace it with a unelected handpicked Sunni Muslim government, [but then], in March of 2013 al-Baghdadi came to Syria (with only the clothes on his back) from al-Qaeda in Iraq in search of fighters and supporters for al-Qaeda, [but then], al-Baghdadi found a ready made army of tens of thousands of Sunni Muslim extremists, fanatics and insane already armed and trained by the US military, [and then], al-Baghdadi gave them a better cause to fight and die as a martyr for in his newly created ISIL Caliphate army, [and then], in August of 2014 al-Baghdadi led his ISIL Caliphate army in an invasion of Iraq, and the rest is history?

    After the ISIL army invaded Iraq, the US still didn't call the ISIL army terrorists, or take any military action against the ISIL army, until they beheaded 3 Americans, [and then], president Obama swore the US would bring the perpetrators to justice, and vice-president Biden swore the US would follow the perpetrators to the gates of hell, [but after all that], it wasn't till 2015 that Obama requested congress to declare war on the ISIL terrorists? .. Strange isn't it? .. That it took the Obama administration until 2015 to identify the ISIL army as terrorists, isn't it? .. Now in 2016 Obama want's to review how to fight the ISIL terrorists?

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