President Obama said Monday the U.S.-led mission against the Islamic State “continues to be a difficult fight.”
“We are hitting ISIL harder than ever,” the president said, using one of the name for the Islamist militant group, which is also called ISIS and Daesh.
His brief statement to reporters followed a meeting at the Pentagon with his cabinet officials and senior national security advisers, a gathering billed as a “quick update” on the more than 18-month-old campaign against the organization, which rapidly seized control of large parts of Syria and Iraq last summer.
The meeting comes less than two weeks after a husband-and-wife team shot and killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California, allegedly in the name of the Islamic State, shaking a public already on edge after attacks last month in Paris claimed by the group took 130 lives.
Obama reiterated his strategy for defeating the Islamic State, as he has done on a seemingly near-daily basis in recent weeks. He said that, even before the assaults in San Bernardino and Paris, he authorized more action to “intensify our war against ISIL.”
Obama said the U.S. launched more air strikes in November than in any previous month in the campaign. He also confirmed the death of Islamic State member Mohammed Emwazi, the British man dubbed“Jihadi John” who beheaded Western hostages on camera, and whom U.S. officials were “reasonably certain” was killed in a strike last month.