U.S. President Barack Obama spoke at the White House about the growing threat of the Islamic State, as well as escalating tensions between Russia and the West. He said that because of airstrikes, the Islamic State is losing arms and equipment.
“ISIL posses an immediate threat to the people of Iraq and the people throughout the region,” Obama said. “That’s why our military action in Iraq has to be part of a broader comprehensive strategy to protect our people and support our partners who are taking the fight to ISIL.”
The president also called on Iraq leaders to build on the progress they had made so far, and restated the need for Iraq to form an inclusive government to unite the country and strengthen its security forces.
Obama said he will be sending U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to the region to continue to build the coalition needed to meet threat of the Islamic State.
“Rooting out a cancer like ISIL will not be quick or easy, but I’m confident that we can and we will, working closely with our allies and our partners,” said Obama.
The president said he would do what was necessary to protect the American people against threat to the U.S. “Because of our strike, the terrorists of ISIL are losing arms and equipment. In some areas, Iraqi government and Kurdish forces have begun to push them back.”
Obama talks U.S. moves on Islamic State, UkraineU.S. President Barack Obama spoke about the international issues concerning the Islamic State and Ukraine at the White House Thursday. CCTV America's Jessica Stone reports.
Obama is set to meet with U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and joint chiefs of staff of the National Security Council to set up a range of options for the situations in Iraq and Syria. Obama also noted that Syria had become a “safe heaven” of ungoverned spaces for the Islamic State.
Obama blamed Russia for the escalating violence in eastern Ukraine. He said Russia is training, arming, and funding pro-Russian separatists in Russia, noting that new images of Russian forces inside Ukraine make that plain to see.
“If there was ever any doubt that Russia is responsible for the violence in eastern Ukraine…the violence is encouraged by Russia, the separatists are trained by Russia, they are armed by Russia, they are funded by Russia,” Obama said. “Russia has deliberately and repeatedly violated the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, and the new images of Russian forces inside Ukraine make that plain for the world to see.”
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko will visit the White House next month, according to the president. It will be Poroshenko’s first visit since becoming president and a major display of unity between the U.S. and Ukraine.
Ukrainian officials say two Russian military columns have rolled into the southeastern part of Ukraine after missiles were fired at a border post. Obama said Ukranian forces were making progress against separatists, and that Russia was becoming more isolated than any time since the Cold War.
Obama pointed to the NATO alliance as a deterrent for Russia. He said that although Ukraine is not part of NATO, other nearby nations are, and that the U.S. takes its commitment to defend NATO allies “very seriously.” The president will attend a NATO summit in Wales next week.
Obama said Thursday that he was weighing the prospect of military action in Syria, but he tamped down any suggestion that such a move was imminent. And he said that even if he were ultimately to authorize strikes, they would have to come in conjunction with a broader regional strategy that addresses political turmoil in both Iraq and Syria.
“Syria is not simply a military issue, it’s also a political issue,” he said. “It’s also an issue that involves all the Sunni states in the region and Sunni leadership recognizing that this cancer that has developed is one that they have to be just as invested in defeating as we are.”
White House officials said the president felt the need to speak on the situation in Syria on Thursday because of speculation that military action would be taken quickly. But Obama muddied that message by asserting that “we don’t have a strategy yet” for going after the Islamic State militants in Syria, a statement quickly pounced on by Republicans who long have asserted that the president lacks a coherent approach to fighting the extremist group.
This story was compiled with information from the Associated Press.