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  • Obama Doubles Down On ISIS Strategy: ‘Going To Work’

    President Barack Obama rejected calls Monday for a change in strategy against the Islamic State following Friday’s terror attacks in Paris.

    The current strategy of limited airstrikes to support local forces is working, and the U.S. has not underestimated ISIS, Obama insisted during a press conference in Turkey at the conclusion of the 2015 G-20 Summit.

    “There will be an intensification of the strategy that we put forward, but the strategy that we are putting forward is the strategy that ultimately is going to work,” he said. “But as I said from the start, it’s going to take time.” (RELATED: France Drops 20 Bombs On ISIS Capital In Retaliatory Strike)

    Putting troops on the ground in large numbers would be a mistake, he added, “not because out military could not march into Mosul or Raqqa or Ramadi and temporarily clear out ISIL, but because we would see a repetition of what we’ve seen before … that they resurface unless we’re prepared to have a permanent occupation of these countries.”

    “A strategy has to be one that can be sustained,” he added.

    Asked whether the U.S. has underestimated ISIS, Obama said “no.” Asked again how that can be true given the group’s territory gains in Iraq and Syria and ability to carry out the Paris attacks, Obama said he is pursuing the “right” strategy. (RELATED: Obama Said ISIS Is ‘Contained’ Morning Of Paris Attacks)

    “If you have a handful of people who don’t mind dying, they can kill a lot of people,” he said. “That’s one of the challenges of terrorism. It’s not their sophistication or the particular weapon that they possess, but it is the ideology that they carry with them and their willingness to die.”

    “We play into the ISIL narrative when we act as if they’re a state, and we use routine military tactics that are designed to fight a state that is attacking another state,” he added. “That’s not what’s going on here.”

    French President Francois Hollande used comparatively aggressive language, saying France would be “merciless” in its retaliation against ISIS. “We are going to lead a war which will be pitiless,” he said after the attacks.

    Obama mocked the suggestion he should use similar language. “Some of [his critics] seem to think that if I were just more bellicose in expressing what we’re doing, that that would make a difference,” he said. “Because that seems to be the only thing that they’re doing, is talking as if they’re tough. But I haven’t seen particular strategies that they would suggest that would make a real difference.”

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