“Our coalition continues to be on offense. ISIL is on defense and it has now been a full year since ISIL has been able to mount a major successful offensive operation on either Syria or Iraq,” Obama said.
As the Islamic State continues to lose territory, it also continues to lose the money that is its life blood, Obama said in his remarks after meeting his national security team at the Department of Treasury.
“As a result of our strikes against its oil infrastructure and supply lines, we believe that we’ve cut ISIL’s revenue from oil by millions of dollars per month. In destroying the storage sites where they keep their cash, we’ve deprived ISIL of many millions more,” he said.
The Islamic State, he said, is now effectively cut off from the international financial system.
Cutting off the terror group’s money may not be as dramatic as military strikes, but it is critically important and we’re seeing the results, he added.
“ISIL’s cash reserves are down, it has had to cut salaries for its fighters, it’s resorting to more extortion of those trapped in its grip. By ISIL’s own admission, some of its own leaders have been caught stealing cash and gold. Once again, ISIL’s true nature has been shown. These are no religious warriors, they are thugs and they are thieves,” he said.
Obama said the Islamic State’s ranks are shrinking as well.
“Their morale is sinking. As one defector said, ISIL is not bringing Islam to the world and people need to know that. Thanks to international efforts, the flow of foreign fighters, including from America, to Syria and Iraq has plummeted,” Obama said.
In fact, our intelligence community now assesses that the ranks of ISIS fighter has been reduced to the lowest levels in more than two and a half years, he said.
“Even as we continue to destroy ISIL militarily, we’re addressing larger forces that have allowed these terrorists to gain traction in parts of the world. With regard to Iraq, this means helping Iraqis stabilise liberated communities and promote inclusive governance so ISIL cannot return,” he added.
Over the past two months, Obama said he authorised a series of steps to ratchet up the fight against it.
“Additional US personnel, including special forces in Syria to assist local forces battling ISIL there, additional advisers to work more closely with Iraqi security forces and additional assets, including attack helicopters and additional support for local forces in northern Iraq,” he said.
Obama also said that the Islamic State continues to lose key leaders, he said, adding that so far the US has taken out more than 120 top ISIL leaders and commanders.
“And our message is clear, that if you target American and our allies, you will not be safe. You will never be safe,” Obama said.