US president Barack Obama defended his decision to withhold large numbers of US troops from the war against ISIS in Iraq and Syria in a statement and press conference Monday at the Antalya G20 summit. He said that his closest military and civilian advisers maintain that this would be a mistake in places where “local populations are not committed to inclusive government and live under extremist regimes.”
“If we had 50,000 troops in Syria, and a terrorist attack was generated in Yemen, what would we do then? A strategy must be sustainable. Instead, the US President said that US was accelerating its current military strategy in coordination with allies. “It will work, but will take time.” Obama claimed that already ISIS controls less territory today than it did a year ago and “the less they hold the less they can claim they are a state. In fact they are a network of killers.” We will fight them aggressively by going after their leaders and infrastructure, strengthening forces willing to fight them, and curbing the movements of terrorists by border controls, intelligence-sharing and vigilance.
On the Syrian question, the US president said that for the first time “key countries have come together on three common goals: inclusive government, elections and a ceasefire, even while we fight ISIS. Assad’s future remains to be resolved.