Egypt Independent

US to ask Middle East partners to do more against ISIS



US President Barack Obama has said he is sending Defense Secretary Ash Carter to the Middle East to work with coalition partners "on securing more military contributions" to the fight against ISIS.
 
In a rare visit to the Pentagon Monday, Obama discussed the military campaign against the ISIS terrorist group and other national security issues with his top team, including Carter, Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Treasury Jacob Lew and Attorney General Loretta Lynch as well as several other senior officials such as Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. John Dunford and Commander of Central Command Gen. Lloyd Austin.
 
"Just as the United States is doing more in this fight, just as our allies, France, Germany and the United Kingdom, Australia and Italy are doing more, so must others,” the US president said at a press conference following the meeting.
 
"That is why I have asked Secretary Carter to go to the Middle East — he'll depart right after this press briefing — to work with our coalition partners on securing more military contributions to this fight," he added.
 
Kerry will also leave for Moscow to seek Kremlin's help in moving the Syrian talks in Vienna forward.
 
Obama also updated reporters about the fight against ISIS, saying the militant group had lost at least 40 percent of territory under its control in Iraq and thousands of square kilometers in Syria.
 
He noted the military efforts against the militant group in Iraq and Syria as well as other countries, including Libya.
 
Although he did not make any announcement about employing new capabilities against ISIS, the Pentagon is believed to have proposed to Obama the need for aligning US bases across the world against ISIS.
 
The details of the proposal came out recently on the front page of New York Time's Thursday edition ahead of his visit to the Pentagon.
 
The daily quoting unnamed defense officials wrote that the Pentagon had proposed a plan to create a string of counter-terrorism hubs across the world against ISIS, which would involve about 500 to 5,000 American forces and might cost about “several million dollars” a year.
 
The US currently has several bases across Africa, including Djibouti, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Niger, Cameroon and Libya each of which functions for different missions.
 
Obama also spoke about the role of US Special Forces in Syria. "The Special Forces that I ordered to Syria have begun supporting local forces. They pushed south, cut off supply lines and tightened the squeeze on Raqqah," he said.
 
The Pentagon announced last month that the US Special Forces will be taking specific combat roles as well as chasing ISIS leaders and gathering intelligence about the militant group in Iraq and Syria.  
 
Meanwhile, Obama also assured Americans against terrorist threats ahead of their Christmas holidays.
 
"The Department of Homeland Security is updating its alert system to help the American people stay vigilant and safe," he said.
 
Obama's visit to the military's headquarters in the US city of Arlington came in the wake of the recent San Bernardino shooting incident that left 14 people dead and dozens others wounded.