There’s no question that the tragic events in Paris underscore the urgency of our campaign to defeat and ultimately destroy ISIL. As President Obama has said, the fight against ISIL will be long — ISIL is a determined, well-resourced, and brutal enemy that aims to establish branches beyond Iraq and Syria, preying on vulnerable populations.
This is why, at the President’s direction, the U.S. government for more than a year has executed a comprehensive and sustained strategy to defeat ISIL. Since last summer, we’ve built a global coalition of 65 partners who are working together to degrade and destroy ISIL.
Highlights of our efforts include:
Relentlessly pursuing ISIL leaders and going after attack plotters wherever they are:
In the last week, we have taken strikes against notorious ISIL operative Mohammed Emwazi, aka “Jihadi John”, and Abu Nabil, the leader of ISIL in Libya. A terrorist group like ISIL won’t be defeated by a single strike, but these operations should be a clear warning to ISIL that we will go after their leadership and networks throughout the world.
Cutting off supply lines and shrinking their safehavens:
We’re intensifying our work with local partners in Iraq and Syria to empower them to take the fight to ISIL. In Iraq and Syria, ISIL has lost more than 20-25 percent of the populated territory they once controlled. Over the past month, Iraqi forces have largely taken back the city of Bayji from ISIL control. Just last week, Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces retook the town of Sinjar from ISIL, an important strategic point for ISIL’s supply and communication lines. The global coalition supported the Peshmerga-led offensive with substantial airpower, launching over 50 strikes near Sinjar since November 11.
We need to keep denying ISIL foreign fighters and cutting its revenue streams — including from oil facilities. And, just as we are shrinking their physical safehaven, we need to deny them digital safehaven and support community partners to provide alternative messages from credible voices to counter ISIL’s twisted message.
Enhancing and enabling partners:
We need partners in the fight against ISIL inside Iraq and Syria and around the globe to ensure our gains are sustainable. We are training Iraqi forces and are building the capacity of our partners in northern Syria.
Pushing for a political solution:
We’re also making in-roads in improving inclusive governance in Iraq, and with a group of other nations, working toward a negotiated settlement in Syria to end a conflict that has cost a quarter million lives and displaced millions of people in the region. Because ultimately, a political solution that addresses the chaos that has fueled ISIL’s rise offers the only sustainable path to the group’s ultimate defeat.
Though we’ve made progress in the fight against ISIL, it remains a very serious global threat. The tragedies in Paris and Beirut and the bombing of Metrojet 9268 make clear that we must continue to relentlessly press the group on all fronts until it is destroyed.