With the Islamic State militants spreading across eastern Syria and northern and western Iraq, President Barack Obama noted that the moderate Syrian rebels fighting both the group and the government of Bashar Assad are "outgunned and outmanned." In addition to the action pledged by fellow NATO leaders, he pressed Arab allies to reject the "nihilism" projected by the group..
The new NATO coalition will be able to mount a sustained effort to push back the militants, Obama said. The US secretaries of State and Defense, meeting with their counterparts at the international gathering, insisted the Western nations build a plan by the time the UN General Assembly meets this month.
"I did not get any resistance or pushback to the basic notion that we have a critical role to play in rolling back this savage organization that is causing so much chaos in the region and is harming so many people and poses a long-term threat to the safety and security of NATO members," Obama said at the summit conclusion. "So there's great conviction that we have to act, as part of the international community, to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL, and that was extremely encouraging."
Laying out a strategy for Iraq, Obama hinted at a broader military campaign, likening it to the way US forces pushed back al-Qaida along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan, taking out the group's leadership, shrinking its territory and pounding at its militant followers. To do that, the US used persistent airstrikes, usually by CIA drones.
So far, US airstrikes in Iraq have been largely limited to helping Kurdish forces and protecting refugees. But Obama has set a goal of dismantling and destroying the Islamic State, and said yesterday that the US will continue to hunt down the militants just as it did with al-Qaida and with al-Shabab in Somalia.
Secretary of State John Kerry heads to the Middle East next week, and he expects to expand the coalition beyond Western nations.

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