US President Barak Obama arrives to attend the G20 Leaders Summit welcoming ceremony in Antalya, Turkey, November 15, 2015. (AFP Photo)
US President Barack Obama acknowledged that the Paris attacks were a “terrible and sickening setback” in the fight against the Daesh (ISIL) terrorist group.
“ISIL is the face of evil,” Obama said Monday at the conclusion of the G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey. “Our goal is to destroy this barbaric organization.”
However, Obama ruled out the possibility of deploying more US ground troops to combat the terrorists.
“It is not just my view but the view of my closest military and civilian advisers that that would be a mistake,” he said.
“Not because our military could not march into Mosul or Raqqa or Ramadi and temporarily clear out ISIL but because we would see a repetition of what we’ve seen before, which is if you do not have local populations that are committing to inclusive governance and who are pushing back against ideological extremes, that they resurface, unless we’re prepared to have a permanent occupation of these countries,” he added.
Trying to fend off criticism that he does not have a clear strategy against Daesh, Obama suggested that there is no viable alternative. “If there’s a good idea out there, then we’re going to do it,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve shown a hesitation to act.”
“This is not conventional warfare. We play into the ISIL narrative when we act like they are a state… These are killers with fantasies of glory,” he said.
“If you have a handful of people who don’t mind dying, they can kill a lot of people. That’s one of the challenges of terrorism,” Obama said.
The US president, however, said “modest progress” has been made in diplomatic efforts to peacefully end the Syrian conflict.
“We have begun to see some modest progress on the diplomatic front, which is critical,” he said. “The Vienna talks mark the first time that all the key countries have come together… and reached a common understanding.”
Referring to the Paris attacks, which has completely overshadowed the summit, Obama said that Europe has long faced such attacks, but “sadly, this one was not disrupted in time.”
He said the US had no “specific” intelligence on the attacks, pledging to speed up military intelligence sharing with France.
Daesh claimed responsibility for a string of coordinated attacks in Paris that killed at least 132 people Friday night and injured many more.