President Obama said Monday the U.S.-led coalition will keep fighting the Islamic State with a beefed-up version of its current military strategy, but warned that terrorist attacks like the ones in Paris last weekend are difficult to stop.
“If you have a handful of people who don’t mind dying, they can kill a lot of people,” Mr. Obama told reporters at the G-20 summit in Antalya, Turkey. “That’s one of the challenges of terrorism. In those cases, tracking each individual… is a constant effort at vigilance. Sadly, this one wasn’t disrupted in time.”
Mr. Obama and other world leaders at the summit are pledging to double down on a strategy of air strikes and bolstering local forces to fight the extremist group in Syria and in Iraq. He again rejected the idea of U.S. ground troops fighting in the Middle East in large numbers.
“It is not just my view, but the view of my closest military and civilian advisers, that that would be a mistake,” the president said of deploying ground troops. “What happens when there’s a terrorist attack generated from Yemen? Do we then send troops into there? A strategy has to be one that can be sustained.”
He said the coalition fighting the Islamic State will work to bring more partners into the alliance and pursue essentially the same strategy — attacking targets by air, targeting individual extremist leaders, strengthening local Kurdish and Iraqi forces, and “squeezing the space in which they can operate.”
“That’s these strategy we’re going to have to pursue,” he said. “When we find strategies that work, we will double down on those.”
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