US ‘will not relent’ in Islamic State campaign, says Barack Obama

Barack Obama called on Russia to make a "strategic adjustment" and drop its support for Assad, insisting the violence in Syria cannot be stopped as long as Assad is in office.

By: AP | Kuala Lampur | Published: November 22, 2015 2:47 pm
barack obama, obama in ISIS, islamic state, Putin, Russia syrian airstrike, Syrian war, Assad, Syrian President Assad, Obama on Assad, barack obama putin, Vladimir putin, Russia Syria alliance, world news, latest news, top stories Barack Obama called on Russia to make a “strategic adjustment” and drop its support for Assad, insisting the violence in Syria cannot be stopped as long as Assad is in office. (Source: AP)

President Barack Obama vowed Sunday that the United States and its international partners “will not relent” in the fight against the Islamic State, insisting the world would not accept the extremists’ attacks on civilians in Paris and elsewhere as the “new normal.”

Wrapping up a nine-day trip to Turkey and Asia, Obama also pressed Russian President Vladimir Putin to align himself with the U.S.-led coalition, noting that the Islamic State has been accused of bringing down a Russian passenger jet last month, killing 224 people.

“He needs to go after the people who killed Russia’s citizens,” Obama said of Putin.

The president spoke in Malaysia shortly before departing for Washington. His trip also took him to the Philippines and Turkey, where he met with Putin on the sidelines of an international summit.

While Russia has stepped up its air campaign in Syria, Obama said Moscow has focused its attention on moderate rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad, a Russian ally. He called on Russia to make a “strategic adjustment” and drop its support for Assad, insisting the violence in Syria cannot be stopped as long as Assad is in office.

“It will not work to keep him in power,” Obama said. “We can’t stop the fighting.”

Nearly five years of fighting between the Assad government and rebels has created a vacuum that allowed the Islamic State to thrive in both Syria and Iraq. The militant group is now setting its sights on targets outside its stronghold, including the attacks in Paris that killed 130 people and wounded hundreds more.

French President Francois Hollande is due to meet with Obama at the White House on Tuesday to discuss ways to bolster the international coalition fighting the Islamic State. Hollande then heads to Russia for talks with Putin.

The discussions about a military coalition to defeat the Islamic State come amid parallel talks about a diplomatic solution to end Syria’s civil war. The violence has killed more than 250,000 people and displaced millions, sparking a refugee crisis in Europe.

Foreign ministers from about 20 nations agreed last week to an ambitious yet incomplete plan that sets a Jan. 1 deadline for the start of negotiations between Assad’s government and opposition groups. Within six months, the negotiations are to establish a “credible, inclusive and non-sectarian” transitional government that would set a schedule for drafting a new constitution and holding a free and fair U.N.-supervised election within 18 months.

The Paris attacks have heightened fears of terrorism in the West and also sparked a debate in the U.S. about accepting refugees from Syria. It’s unclear whether any of the terrorists in the Paris attacks exploited the refugee system to enter Europe, though Obama has insisted that’s not a legitimate security threat in the United States.

“Refugees who end up in the United States are the most vetted, scrutinized, thoroughly investigated individuals that ever arrive on American shores,” Obama said.

Still, the House passed legislation last week essentially blocking Syrian and Iraqi refugees from the U.S. Democrats in large numbers abandoned the president, with 47 voting for the legislation. Having secured a veto-proof majority in the House, supporters are now hoping for a repeat in the Senate, while Obama works to shift the conversation to milder visa waiver changes that wouldn’t affect Syrian refugees.

Obama has focused his ire on Republicans throughout the trip, harshly criticizing GOP lawmakers and presidential candidates for acting contrary to American values. He took a softer tone Sunday, saying he understands Americans’ concerns but urging them not to give into fear.

He said the Islamic State “can’t beat us on the battlefield so they try to terrorize us into being afraid.”

Speaking dismissively of the Islamic State’s global prowess, Obama said, “They’re a bunch of killers with good social media.”

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  1. A
    Nov 22, 2015 at 3:08 pm
    USA is selfish. It will not bother about any other country, including France.
    1. Pushpinder Harsh
      Nov 24, 2015 at 4:58 am
      Does Obama's statement imply that America will relentlessly pursue its policy of ' do little, talk much' or to 'run with the hare, and hunt with the hounds'? Thus far, they have been practicing both, even as they have been attempting to get Russia to stop its relentless attacks on all terror groups. Americans have a unique approach to tackle terror. In Afghanistan they clified the terror groups into two categories - the 'good' and the 'bad'. In Syria, they have the IS and the anti-ad good guys. Against the IS, they have used mive air power, which some times killed as many as 5 terrorists at the end o the day's raids. Other times, they even successfully destroy a vehicle of two. Entry of Russians has spoiled that game. While USA carries on relentlessly, Russia and France hurt ISIS so badly that the IS retaliated by downing Russian civilian aircraft and carrying out the Paris macre. On the other hand, US has not sufficiently anno those mindless killers.
      1. D
        Nov 22, 2015 at 9:49 am
        World leaders have taken to calling ISIS “Daesh,” a word the Islamic State hates.The Kurdish militants battling ISIS in Iraq already use the term regularly, though they risk losing their tongues by uttering it. Daesh is an acronym. It stands for the Arabic name of the Islamic State: al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham. In northern Iraq the yrian Christians waging a war against ISIS were calling ISIS troops Daesh which is “a pejorative term for ISIS in Arabic.” Daesh could be read as an insult: “Depending on how it is conjugated in Arabic, it can mean anything from ‘to trample down and crush’ to ‘a bigot who imposes his view on others.’” In light of its more unsavory connotations, ISIS leaders threatened last June “to cut the tongue of anyone who publicly used the acronym Daesh, instead of referring to the group by its full name.”
        1. B
          Nov 22, 2015 at 9:58 am
          And who will go behind those terrorists who shoot downed Malaysian plain in 2014
          1. J
            Nov 22, 2015 at 10:43 pm
            If US is serious, they should initiate embargo on the Wahabi nations like Saudi, Qatar, Kuwait and UAE. US very well knows that ISIS, AlQaeda, Taliban and other terrorist organizations are getting funds from these gulf countries. They are not really Muslims. They belong to Wahabi cult. If they were Muslims, they would not be killing innocent people, and, would not have demolished the mausoleums of prophet Mohammed's family members. Even if you want to consider them as Muslims, according to the demographic information available on Wikipedia, the potion of these gulf countries is less than 1% of the total Muslim potion of the world.
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