President Barack Obama vowed Friday to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the militants of ISIS — an organization that he said was too dangerous to be simply contained.
He said that NATO countries agreed on the need for immediate action against the militants, who have rampaged across Syria and Iraq and have vowed to establish a caliphate across the Middle East. He also said that Arab states, including those with a Sunni majority, must help as well.
The president spoke from Wales at the conclusion of a NATO summit that was called to deal with Russian aggression in Ukraine but that was somewhat overshadowed by the ISIS threat.
Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.
“You can’t contain an organization that is running roughshod through that much territory, causing that much havoc, displacing that many people, killing that many innocents, enslaving that many women,” he said. “The goal has to be to dismantle them.”
He said that included bolstering Iraqi security forces and taking out ISIS leaders.
On Russia, NATO leaders approved plans earlier in the day to create a force that could mobilize quickly if any alliance country in Eastern Europe were to come under attack. NATO will also continue air patrol flights over the Baltics and other security measures.
Obama declared that “we will defend every ally.” He said the alliance had “sent a strong message to Russia that actions have consequences.”
“Russia must stop its violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said.
In a hopeful sign, Ukraine signed a cease-fire agreement Friday with pro-Russian rebels who have been fighting Ukrainian government forces in eastern Ukraine.
“Obviously, we are hopeful — but, based on past experience, also skeptical that in fact the separatists will follow through and the Russians will stop violating Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Obama said. “So it has to be tested.”
On ISIS, the militant group that has conquered parts of Syria and Iraq, Obama pledged: “We are going to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL,” using a different acronym for the group.