Obama: I Don’t Think ISIS Is ‘Gaining Strength,’ ‘We Have Contained Them’

‘What is true is that from the start, our goal has been first to contain and we have contained them’

STEPHANOPOULOS: “The fight against ISIS front and center in my exclusive interview with President Obama yesterday when we spoke in the cabinet room shortly before the strike, the president acknowledged how difficult it would be to eliminate the threat from that deadly terror group.”
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 STEPHANOPOULOS: “Even your friendly critics, Fareed Zakaria, says what you have on the ground is not enough. Every couple months you will be faced with the same choice, back down or double down.”
OBAMA: “I think what is true is that this is always been a multi-year project, precisely because the government structures in the Sunni areas of Iraq are weak and there are none in Syria. And we don’t have ground forces there in sufficient numbers to simply march into al Raqqah in Syria and clean the whole place out. And as a consequence, we’ve always understood that our goal has to be militarily constraining ISIL’s capabilities, cutting off their supply lines, cutting off their financing.”
STEPHANOPOULOS: “But ISIS is gaining strength, aren’t they?”
OBAMA: “I don’t think they’re gaining strength. What is true is that, from the start our goal has been first to contain and we have contained them. They have not gained ground in Iraq and in Syria. They’ll come in, they’ll leave. But you don’t see this systemic march by ISIL across the terrain. What we have not yet been able to do is to completely decapitate their command and control structures. We’ve made some progress in trying to reduce the flow of foreign fighters and part of our goal has to be to recruit more effective Sunni partners in Iraq to really go on offense rather than simply engage in defense.”

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