US President Barack Obama rejected calls for a shift in US policy in fighting ISIS on Monday following the Paris terror attacks that left 129 dead.
Republican lawmakers have called on the president to send in ground troops to combat ISIS and the worsening situation across the Middle East. However, Obama stated Republicans are just “talking as if they’re tough” without really understanding the consequences of such actions.
“Folks want to pop off and have opinions about what they think they would do,” Obama stated at a news conference following the conclusion of the G-20 Summit in Turkey. “If they think that somehow their advisers are better than the chairman of my Joint Chiefs of Staff and the folks who are actually on the ground, I want to meet them. And we can have that debate.”
ISIS took responsibility for Friday’s attacks in Paris, the worst attack in France since the World War II. One of the terrorists is believed to have been a Syrian refugee, prompting some Republican leaders, such as Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz, to suggest that the US only offer aid to Middle East Christian refugees, not Muslims.
Twenty-six Republican governors have begun seeking legal means to ban all Syrian refugees from their state altogether. Criticizing such a move, Obama called the suggestion “shameful,” adding, “That’s not American. It’s not who we are.”
The president has been coming under fire lately by US allies for not being forceful enough in the campaign combating ISIS.
While Obama did admit that the Paris attacks were “terrible and sickening setback,” he emphasized that his administration’s policy of training and arming moderate forces on the ground, coupled with international coalition airstrikes, is the best means to eradicate the jihadist terror group.
Thus far, the US has deployed more than 3,000 troops to Iraq to assist local forces, with plans to send 50 special operations forces to Syria. “The strategy that we are putting forward is the strategy that ultimately is going to work,” Obama said. “It’s going to take time.”
Following the terror attacks in Paris, France increased its involvement in coalition attacks against ISIS. Late Sunday evening, French jet fighters bombed the Syrian city of Raqqa, a known ISIS stronghold, destroying training and operational compounds belonging to the jihadist group.