President Barack Obama on Thursday touted progress the United States and its allies have made in the military campaign against Islamic State, though he said the militant group still has the ability to direct and inspire attacks.
While the U.S.-led air and ground campaign against the group’s strongholds in Iraq Syria have cost it territory, IS is adapting by reverting to high-profile attacks and by using the internet to recruit members, train them and encourage “lone wolf” attacks. Islamic State also maintains control of major cities, including Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria.
“We’re going to keep going after ISIL aggressively across every front of this campaign,” Obama said at a news conference at the Pentagon, using an acronym for Islamic State. “I am pleased with the progress that we’ve made on the ground in Iraq and Syria. We’re far from freeing Mosul and Raqqa.”
Obama said the last two years of the U.S.-led campaign had proved Islamic State can be beaten in “conventional fights.”
“In the meantime, though, you’re seeing ISIL carry out external terrorist acts and they’ve adapted from al Qaeda,” he said.