Washington, Dec 19: US President Barack Obama has said that President Bashar al-Assad must step aside in order to achieve stability in Syria and end the brutal civil war in the country.
Stressing on the importance of an actual government that has policing capacity and structure at areas in Syria that currently aren't governed, Obama said the long-term US goal was to to stabilise lawless regions so that IS does not have any safe haven.
"It is my firm belief and the belief of the experts in this administration, that so long as Assad is there, we cannot achieve that kind of stability inside of Syria," Obama told reporters at his year ender news conference yesterday.
"That's going to continue to be a top priority for us, moving aggressively on the military track and not letting ISIL take a breath, and pounding away at them with our Special Forces and our airstrikes, and the training and advising of partners who can go after them," he said.
Obama said the capacity of the IS to infiltrate Western countries with operatives who've traveled to Syria or Iraq, and the savviness of their social media with their ability to recruit disaffected individuals, will continue to make them dangerous for quite some time.
"But, in the same way that al Qaeda is pinned down and has much more difficulty carrying out any significant attacks because of how we've systematically dismantled them, they still pose a threat," Obama said.
"There are still operatives who are interested in carrying out terror attacks because they still operate in areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan, or more prominently right now, in Yemen, that are hard to reach," he said. Obama said they planned to defeat IS by systematically cutting off their supply lines, cutting off their financing, and taking out their leadership, forces, and infrastructure.