U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday a U.S.-led coalition has eliminated key Islamic State leadership and ground. File Photo by Drew Angerer/UPI | License Photo
LANGLEY, Va., April 14 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama said Wednesday the United States and its coalition partners have made significant grounds in their fight against the Islamic State, taking out key leadership within the group to reduce its ranks to the "lowest levels in about two years."
Obama, in an address at the CIA headquarters after a meeting with the National Security Council, said the United States has "momentum" in the fight against the group also known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh. The group is on the defensive in Iraq and Syria, losing top leaders and ground, he said. The coalition forces have made inroads to taking away the IS' financial infrastructure that includes oil wells, refineries and supply lines, he said.
"These depraved terrorists still have the ability to inflict horrific violence on the innocent, to the revulsion of the entire world. With attacks likes these, ISIL hopes to weaken our collective resolve. Once again, they have failed. Their barbarism only stiffens our unity and determination to wipe this vile terrorist organization off the face of the Earth," he said.
He said the push to end the Syrian civil war has contributed to an end to the IS' reign. He acknowledged the cease-fire in the war-torn region has not completely ended violence, but it has allowed humanitarian aid to reach those who need it most.
Obama has faced criticism from Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump and others within the GOP for not using more force in the attacks against the group. He said ultimately the resolution to the fighting will be a diplomatic one.
"Beyond Syria and Iraq, we continue to go after ISIL wherever it tries to rear its ugly head. We're helping partners strengthen their security forces, from Africa to Afghanistan," he said.
Obama said the U.S.-led forces continue to attack the remnants of al-Qaida "that still pose a significant threat to U.S. interests, our allies and the homeland." He said targeted strikes have taken out terror fighters in Somalia, Yemen and Syria.
"So once again, we're sending a message: If you target Americans, you have no safe haven. We will find you," he said.
He said the United States has continued to show resolve in the "face of terrorists who try to spread panic" as the three-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing approaches.
"In the face of madmen who only know how to kill, we're going to keep on living our lives and trying to lift people up. We go to our stadiums. We cheer for our teams. We thrive in our cities. We run our races, as they will next week in Boston," he said.