Updated: October 9, 2014 9:58:37 am
President Barack Obama said he was confident the US will keep making progress against the Islamic State militant group but acknowledged that the “difficult” military conflict in Iraq and Syria would be lengthy.
“Our strikes continue alongside our partners. It remains a difficult mission. As I have indicated from the start, this is not something that is going to be solved overnight,” Obama said.
Flanked at the Pentagon by top military brass, he said the good news is there is a broad-based international consensus that the Islamic State (IS) is a threat to world peace and “that their barbaric behaviour has to be dealt with”.
“We are confident that we will be able to continue to make progress in partnership with the Iraqi government, because ultimately it’s going to be important for them to be able to, with our help, secure their own country and to find the kind of political accommodations that are necessary for long-term prosperity in the region,” the US President said.
Obama has pledged to destroy IS, which remains in control of most of the territory it has seized in Iraq and Syria despite days of US-led airstrikes, and also to keep US ground forces out of combat.
The militant group, also known by its acronym ISIS and ISIL, has demonstrated its brutality with the beheadings of four Western hostages in Syria and broadcasting it in videos.
Obama also held a meeting with his national security team on the threat posed by IS.
During the meeting at Pentagon, Obama was updated on military operations by the US and its international partners in Iraq and Syria.
“He was also briefed on the security and political situation in both countries,” the White House said.
Obama discussed the importance of supporting Iraqi efforts to reconstitute their security forces to combat IS, it said.
“He also discussed the importance of increasing support for the Syrian moderate opposition in the campaign to counter ISIL in Syria,” the White House said.
Before his remarks and meeting with the national security team, Obama held another meeting with his military commanders on the various aspect of national security and global issues, including Ebola virus, and developments in the US Pacific Command.
“It’s been noted that our alliances in that area have never been stronger. We are very much welcomed as a Pacific power in the region. And our ability to continue to maintain a presence that ensures freedom of navigation, that international law is observed is going to be critically important,” Obama said.
He said: “We need to do that in a way that also reflects our interest in cooperation and effective communication with China, which obviously is a major player in the region.
“But the anchor of our presence there, our treaties and alliances with key countries like South Korea and Japan, obviously remain critically important,” Obama said.
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