WASHINGTON—The fight against the Islamic State (IS) is making progress and ending the Syrian conflict is crucial to the defeat of the terrorist group, US President Barack Obama said Thursday.
Airstrikes by the US-led coalition have led to the IS losing over 40 percent of its territory in Iraq and seeing a slower inflow of foreign fighters, Obama told reporters after a meeting with the National Security Council at the State Department.
“The road ahead will not be easy but our coalition continues to grow stronger, the ISIL (another acronym of IS) core in Syria and Iraq continues to shrink. With allies and partners…we will destroy this barbaric terrorist organization,” Obama said.
He added that an end to the conflict in Syria is key to the eventual success of the anti-IS campaign.
On Monday, the United States and Russia agreed on a plan for a cessation of hostilities in Syria that will begin on Feb. 27.
The United States and Russia said in a joint statement that any party engaged in conflicts in Syria will indicate to Russia or the United States their commitment to the cessation of hostilities by no later than 12:00 (Damascus time) on Saturday. The plan excludes the IS.
The cessation of hostilities was largely envisaged in Munich on Feb. 12 during a meeting of the International Syrian Support Group (ISSG), which is co-chaired by the United States and Russia. The group comprises the Arab League, the European Union, the United Nations, and 17 countries including China.
The IS terrorist group captured large swaths of land in Iraq and Syria in the past several years.