President Barack Obama pledged to increase US support for the moderate opposition in Syria’s civil war on Monday, Reuters reported.
Speaking during a visit to the Pentagon, Obama also said the United States must do more at home to prevent attacks and combat Islamic State efforts to recruit followers.
Obama noted the difficulty of preventing small-scale attacks by “lone wolves” within the US homeland despite success at preventing large attacks since Sept. 11, 2001.
“We’re going to have to pick up our game to prevent these attacks,” the president was quoted as saying.
Obama said there are no current plans to send additional US troops overseas and repeated that the fight against Islamic State will not be quick.
He said US training of Iraqi forces had been ramped up after being too slow.
The US military has lamented that Iraq has not provided enough recruits to meet US training targets. It has also acknowledged that recruiting and training Syrians to fight Islamic State is moving more slowly than expected, partly because of problems with vetting volunteers.
“We continue to accelerate the delivery of critical equipment, including anti-tank weapons, to Iraqi security forces,” Obama said. “And I have made it clear to my team that we will do more to train and equip the moderate opposition in Syria.”
Republicans criticized the president for not having a successful strategy.
“His rhetoric doesn’t match reality. Over the last year, [Islamic State] has expanded its reach exponentially — and the group’s influence continues to grow,” Senator Tom Cotton said.
“We’re not going to defeat a radical jihadist army with more bureaucrats in DC and no funding for our military on the front lines.”
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