US President Barack Obama on Tuesday announced new partners in the coalition coalition against the so-called ‘Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’ (ISIL) takfiri group.
“The United States established and is leading a coalition of more than 60 partners committed to degrading and ultimately destroying ISIL, and today welcomed new coalition members Malaysia, Nigeria, and Tunisia to join those efforts,” Obama said.
Obama’s announcement came during a counter terrorism summit on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meetings in New York.
The American leader acknowledged that the campaign to counter militants would experience certain setbacks but was sanguine about end results.
“Ultimately I am optimistic, in Iraq and in Syria ISIL is surrounded by communities, countries and a broad international coalition committed to its destruction,” he said.
“We see that ISIL can be defeated on the battle field where there is sound organization and a government and military coordinating with this coalition, and our diplomatic efforts.”
In Iraq, he said Mosul, Ramadi and Fallujah are still under ISIL control but one-third of populated areas have been retaken from the militants.
But in Syria, however, Obama’s hopes verses the realities on the ground have not exactly been in sync as the coalition allegedly suspended a train-and-equip program for Syrian opposition groups after the Pentagon confirmed trained fighters handed over some of their equipment to al-Nusra Front, a terrorist group fighting in Syria.
The coalition has been fighting ISIL militants for more than a year at a cost of nearly $3 billion, following the militants’ upsurge in Iraq early last June when ISIL began capturing large swaths of territories in Syria and Iraq.
Despite the enormous costs and resources invested in the fight, the outcome still hangs in the balance.