US keeping large force in Afghanistan to defeat IS: Obama
WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): The United States is keeping a large force in Afghanistan to defeat ISIS, the US President Barack Obama said Thursday.
“In Afghanistan, one of the reasons that I decided to largely maintain our current force posture was so that we could keep eliminating ISIL's presence there,” Obama told reporters at a Pentagon news conference after a meeting with his national security team to review the progress made in the fight against ISIS.
“We delivered another blow last month when we took out a top ISIL leader in Afghanistan, Umar Khalifa,” Obama said. Recently Obama announced his intention to keep 8,500 American troops in Afghanistan by January next year as against 5,500 decided earlier.
Obama said every time there is a terrorist attack he feel disappointment, because he would like to prevent all of them. “That's true not just when the attacks are in Europe or in the United States. When you read stories about attacks in Lebanon, or Iraq, or Afghanistan, or distant parts of the world that don't get as much attention, they get my attention,” he said.
The US, he said, is constantly pushing itself to see are there additional ideas that they can deploy to defeat the threat being posed by ISIS.
“I don't think that there is any doubt that had we not destroyed Al Qaida in the FATA (in Pakistan) that more Americans would have been killed. We might have seen more attacks like we saw on 9/11. We have maintained vigilance, recognizing that those threats still remain, those aspirations in the minds of these folks still remain, but it is much harder for them to carry out large scale attacks like that than it used to be,” he said.
These lower-level attacks carried out by fewer operatives or an individual with less sophisticated and less expensive weapons can do real damage, he said.
Obama said ISIS poses a major security threat. “We're going to keep going after ISIL aggressively across every front of this campaign,” Obama said.
Even as the US and its coalition partners continue to be relentless in its fight against ISIL, Obama said ISIL still has the ability to direct and inspire attacks. “In fact, the decline of ISIL in Syria and Iraq appears to be causing it to shift to tactics that we've seen before; an even greater emphasis on encouraging high profile terrorist attacks, including in the United States,” he said.
“We continue to take out senior ISIL leaders and commanders. This includes ISIL's deputy minister of war, Basim Muhammad al-Bajari; the top commander in Mosul, Hatim Talib al-Hamduni; and in yet another significant loss for ISIL is minister of war, Umar al-Shishani. None of ISIL's leaders are safe, and we are going to keep going after them,” he said.
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