Calling Friday's deadly terror attacks in Paris a "Setback," President Obama on Monday ruled out a shift in strategy in the fight against the Islamic State, saying putting U.S. troops on the ground to combat the group "would be a mistake."
Obama, speaking at a news conference following a G20 leaders' summit in Turkey, said the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State in Iraq and Syria would redouble efforts to implement its current strategy rather than moving in a new direction.
"There will be an intensification of the strategy that we put forward but the strategy that we put forward is the strategy that ultimately is going to work," Obama told reporters. "But ... it is going to take time."
"It is not just my view, but the view of my closest military and civilian advisers, that (boots on the ground) would be a mistake," the U.S. president added.
Obama said the coordinated attacks that killed 129 people in Paris on Friday were a setback in the fight against Islamic State, but he insisted the U.S.-led coalition was making progress in bringing down the militant group, which overran parts of Syria and Iraq last year.
"The terrible events in Paris were obviously a terrible and sickening setback. Even as we grieve with our French friends, however, we can't lose sight that there has been progress being made," Obama said.
He said U.S. intelligence agencies have been concerned about a potential attack on the West by Islamic State militants for over a year but they did not pick up specific threats about an attack on Paris that would have enabled officials there to respond effectively to deter the assault.
"There were no specific mentions of this particular attack that would give us a sense of something that we could provide French authorities, for example, or act on ourselves," he said.
Obama said the United States would stick to its current strategy in the fight against Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq, again ruling out putting U.S. troops on the ground in a fighting capacity.
“We would see a repetition of what we’ve seen before, which is if you do not have local populations that are committed” to helping combat extremism, Obama said, the terrorists “resurface, unless we are prepared to have a permanent occupation of these countries.”
The U.S. has already begun working with France and other countries since Saturday to increase airstrikes against the group in Iraq and Syria. The U.K. also began intensifying its counter-terrorism efforts, adding an extra 1,900 intelligence officers.
Pressed by several reporters, Obama denied that the United States has underestimated the ability of the Islamic State but has had an "acute awareness" of the group's ability to militarily strike in the West.
Because the Islamic State does not conduct "conventional warfare," he said the group was hard to stop, adding the United States was playing into the militant group's narrative when it acts as if it is a state.
"That's not what's going on here. These are killers," he said.
"It's not their sophistication or the particular weaponry they possess but it is the ideology that they carry with them and their willingness to die," he said.
Obama said the Islamic State is "the face of evil" and that all nations need to step up their efforts to combat the threat it poses.
"We need to be doing everything we can to protect against more attacks and protect our people," he said.
Obama will fly from Turkey to the Philippines for talks with Asian leaders.
Material from Reuters and AFP was used in this report.
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