Obama: US ′intensifying′ attacks on IS in Syria | News | DW | 07.07.2015
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Obama: US 'intensifying' attacks on IS in Syria

The US is targeting the "heart" of the IS, US President Barack Obama said after a briefing with top military and security officials. After losing ground, the jihadists struck back against Kurdish forces in Syria.

The military campaign against the "Islamic State" (IS) will be long and likely face "setbacks," Obama said at the Pentagon on Monday.

"We're going after the ISIL leadership and infrastructure in Syria, the heart of ISIL that pumps funds and propaganda to people around the world," he said, referring to IS.

"In many places in Syria and Iraq, it's dug in among an innocent civilian population. It will take time to root them out," Obama added, after discussing the efforts to dismantle the extremist group with his national security team and top military brass.

Obama said the US will continue to disrupt the group's efforts to finance itself, and target oil and gas facilities which the jihadists use to fund their operations.

There are no plans to send more American troops overseas, the US president said.

Muslim Americans 'partners' in protecting America

The US-led coalition is conducting airstrikes against the IS in Iraq and Syria, and providing training and equipment to forces fighting the IS on the ground.

"We continue to accelerate the delivery of critical equipment, including anti-tank weapons, to Iraqi security forces," Obama said, adding that the US needs to do more to train and equip moderate rebels in Syria.

More action is also needed to prevent IS jihadists from recruiting on American soil, Obama told reporters.

"Our efforts to counter violent extremism must not target any one community because of their faith or background, including patriotic Muslim Americans who are our partners in keeping our country safe," he said.

IS strikes back

Over the weekend, the US-led coalition bombed the de facto IS capital, Raqqa, conducting some of the heaviest airstrikes in months. The move was aimed at assisting Kurdish forces advancing toward the Syrian city.

On Monday, however, the IS launched a major offensive to regain ground lost to the Kurdish fighters. IS militiamen managed to retake the town of Ain Issa, two weeks after they were pushed back by Kurdish forces. Ain Issa is located some 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Raqqa.

The IS also recaptured several villages around the mountain of Jabal Abdul-Aziz, some 100 kilometers (60 miles) east, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Also on Monday, al Qaeda affiliate Nusra Front launched a suicide attack in Aleppo, which killed at least 25 soldiers loyal to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"The blast was so big it was heard across the city," said the head of the London-based Observatory, Rami Abdel Rahman.

dj/jr (AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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