SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)- US President Barack Obama says the deployment of additional troops to Iraq marks a “new phase” in the fight against the ISIL terrorist group, which is operating in Iraq and Syria.
Obama made the remarks in an interview on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” program broadcast on Sunday, two days after he authorized the deployment of up to 1,500 troops to Iraq, approximately doubling the force the Pentagon has built up in the country since June.
“Phase one was getting an Iraqi government that was inclusive and credible – and we now have done that,” he stated.
“Rather than just try to halt [ISIL’s] momentum, we’re now in a position to start going on some offense,” the US president added.
“The airstrikes have been very effective in degrading ISIL’s capabilities and slowing the advance that they were making,” Obama said. “Now what we need is ground troops, Iraqi ground troops, that can start pushing them back.”
Elsewhere in his remarks, Obama noted that the US and Iran have a common interest in fighting the ISIL terrorists, adding that the issue was totally separate from the ongoing nuclear negotiations with Tehran.
The ISIL terrorists, who were initially trained by the CIA in Jordan in 2012 to destabilize the Syrian government, now control large swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria.
US warplanes have been conducting airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq since early August. Some Western states have also participated in some of the strikes in Iraq.
Since late September, the US and some of its Arab allies have been carrying out airstrikes against ISIL inside Syria without any authorization from Damascus or a UN mandate.