Weekly Address: President Obama – Degrading and Destroying ISIL

The President’s Weekly Address post is also an Open News Thread. Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.

From the White HouseWeekly Address

In this week’s address, President Obama discussed the global campaign to degrade and destroy ISIL. The President stated that our coalition of 66 partners continues to grow stronger and is making vital progress in the fight against ISIL in Iraq and Syria. President Obama also noted that at home we will continue to stay vigilant. At the same time, we’ll keep working to build partnerships of trust and respect with communities to help them stay strong and resilient. The President reiterated that although the fight against ISIL will remain difficult, we will prevail – and ultimately destroy ISIL.

Transcript: WEEKLY ADDRESS: Degrading and Destroying ISIL

Remarks of President Barack Obama as Prepared for Delivery
Weekly Address, The White House, February 27, 2016

Hi, everybody. This week, we continued our mission to destroy ISIL. This remains a difficult fight, and the situation in Syria and Iraq is incredibly complex. ISIL is entrenched, including in urban areas. It uses innocent civilians as human shields. Despite these challenges, I can report that we’re making progress. And this week, I directed my team to continue accelerating our campaign on all fronts.

Our 66-member coalition, including Arab partners, continues to grow stronger. More nations are making more contributions. Every day, our air campaign—more than 10,000 strikes so far—continues to destroy ISIL forces. And we continue to go after ISIL leaders and commanders—taking them out, day in, day out, one after another after another.

In Iraq, ISIL has now lost more than 40 percent of the areas it once controlled. In Syria, a coalition of local forces is tightening the squeeze on ISIL’s stronghold of Raqqa. As we bomb its oil infrastructure, ISIL’s been forced to slash the salaries of its fighters. Thanks to the work of many nations, the flow of foreign terrorist fighters into Syria finally appears to be slowing. In short, in Syria and Iraq, ISIL’s territory is shrinking, there are fewer ISIL fighters on the battlefield, and it’s harder for them to recruit and replenish their ranks.

Still, the only way to deal ISIL a lasting defeat is to end the civil war and chaos in Syria upon which ISIL thrives. A cessation of hostilities in the civil war is scheduled to take effect this weekend. We’re not under any illusions. There are plenty of reasons for skepticism. Even under the best of circumstances, the violence will not end right away. But everyone knows what needs to happen. All parties must end attacks, including aerial bombardment. Humanitarian aid must be allowed to reach areas under siege. Much will depend on whether the Syrian regime, Russia and their allies live up to their commitments. The coming hours and days will be critical, and the world is watching.

That said, there will be absolutely no cease-fire in our fight against ISIL. We’ll remain relentless. Beyond Syria and Iraq, we continue to use the full range of our tools to go after ISIL wherever it tries to take root, as we showed with our recent strike on an ISIL training camp in Libya. With partners around the world, we’ll continue discrediting the ideology that ISIL uses to radicalize, recruit and inspire people to violence, especially online.

Finally, we’ll continue to stay vigilant here at home, including for lone actors or small groups of terrorists like those in San Bernardino, which are harder to detect. Our homeland security and law enforcement professionals are hard at work—24/7. At the same time, we’ll keep working to build partnerships of trust and respect with communities to help them stay strong and resilient. That includes upholding our values—including freedom of religion—so that we stay united as one American family.

Again, this fight against ISIL will remain difficult. But we’ll continue to draw on all elements of our national power, including the strength of our communities and our values as Americans. And I’m confident that we will prevail. We will destroy this barbaric terrorist organization and continue to stand with those around the world who seek a better, safer future.

Bolding added.



  1. The cease-fire began at 5pm on Friday

    A “cessation of hostilities” has come into effect in Syria at midnight local time (5 p.m. EST).

    The temporary pause in fighting was brokered by the U.S. and Russia, and is meant to be a confidence-building measure to jump-start peace talks between the warring parties. It includes the Syrian government and the main opposition bloc.

    But it remains to be seen whether the “cessation” will have a tangible impact on the fighting that has raged in Syria for 5 years now. NPR’s Alice Fordham says “it is still not clear whether the various sides agree on the specific terms of where fighting should or should not continue, leaving many among the opposition skeptical that the truce will have any effect.”

    Part of the reason for that skepticism: the deal doesn’t include ISIS (which controls major portions of Syria) and the al-Qaida-linked group Jabhat al-Nusra.

    As the president said, the fight against ISIL, or Daesh as it should be known, is ongoing.

    • Update on the cease-fire, Saturday afternoon:

      From Turkey, NPR’s Alice Fordham reported that after the agreement went into effect at midnight local time, a pause in fighting largely held overnight:

      “In an rebel-held suburb of Damascus, a resident said the last regime bombs fell just before midnight, and then everything went quiet. The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says it’s calm, too, at the air base in the north from which Russian planes fly sorties in support of president Bashar al-Assad.

      “Initial, isolated reports of gunfire and shelling indicated a level of violence far below what has become normal in Syria.”

      The parties to the deal anticipated it would not be wholly observed, and indeed, the quiet has not been absolute. Syria’s state-run news agency reported some shelling by armed groups in Damascus during the day, according to The Associated Press, and rebel forces have alleged the Syrian government has breached the deal in some areas.

      But overall, the wire service describes “relative calm.”

      • Well, any kind of cease-fire is encouraging, as is the possibility that food and medical aid will get through to the starving, dying Syrians.

        Sigh. I wish the powers that be would refer to this group of murderers as “Daesh,” the name the murderers dislike.

  2. The president was in Jacksonville FL yesterday:

    Transcript: Remarks by the President on the Seventh Anniversary of the Recovery Act

    Sometimes people also forget where we’ve been, and if you forget where you’ve been, sometimes you don’t know where you need to go. Seven years ago, the ground we were standing on was an empty plot of swampland. I don’t know if gators make it up this far — (laughter) — but it was not some place you’d want to be wondering around. It had been ignored for more than a decade since the Navy base here closed.

    Back then, all around us, the economy was in a free fall — 800,000 Americans were losing their jobs every single month. That’s almost the entire population of Jacksonville joining the unemployment line every few weeks. Families lost their homes, families lost their savings. And people here in Florida were especially hard hit — the unemployment rate here in Florida hit 11.2 percent, which was even higher than the national average.

    Fast-forward today. Businesses like yours have created jobs for 71 straight months — 14 million new jobs overall. We’ve cut the unemployment rate by more than half. Nationally, the high was 10 percent — it’s now down to 4.9 percent. And here in Jacksonville, it is even lower. Our auto industry just had its best year ever. We’ve created more than 900,000 new manufacturing jobs in the past six years.

    • Our President never, ever gets the credit he deserves for all the good things that have happened since he took over from that brush-clearin’, catfish-burger-eatin’, dumb cluck Dubya. I heartily resent all the crap the Rethugs are spewing about how awful is the state of things in this country, when it has made so much progress back from the abyss that yawned open in the autumn of 2008.

      Of course, it’s not perfect. The working class is still screwed and people of color are still being killed every day by racist cops and crazed “lone wolves.” We need to regain control of the economy so that everyone benefits, not just the 1%, and to somehow convince people that population control by random gun massacre is undesirable. And melting polar ice endangers us all. But these are problems that may be solved by a Democratic president and Congress instead of the current obstructionist leeches in control now.

  3. In the News: SCOTUS without Scalia is good news for class-action lawsuits …

    Dow Chemical Co’s agreement to pay $835 million to settle a price-fixing dispute provides evidence that Justice Antonin Scalia’s death is a blow to businesses that have had success recently in challenging class action cases at the U.S. Supreme Court.

    Dow (DOW.N), in the process of merging with Dupont (DD.N), on Friday settled the decade-long dispute rather than risk its fate being decided by a shorthanded, eight-justice court missing, in Scalia, a reliable vote in support of companies in class action cases.

    The Dow dispute, in which it was accused of conspiring to artificially inflate polyurethane prices, had been on hold at the high court pending the outcome of another case.

    Following Scalia’s Feb. 13 death, the court’s conservative wing lacks the five votes needed “to make dramatic new rules that curtail class actions,” said Paul Bland, executive director of consumer advocacy group Public Justice.

    Dow said in a statement that Scalia’s death and the raging political fight over naming his successor meant an “increased likelihood for unfavorable outcomes for business involved in class action suits.”

    You start to get a sense of why who takes the place of Antonin Scalia on the court is the subject of such a huge fight. The protected classes, businesses who harm people, have an enormous stake in the makeup of the court.

  4. The White House pulled together some of the highlights of the celebration of Black History Month: What to Watch on Your Extra Day of Black History Month

    Summary: Check out some of the best moments of Black History Month at the White House.

    In honor of Leap Day — also known as bonus Black History Month day — check out some of the best video moments from Black History Month at the White House.

    A White House reception on February 18th hosted by President and Mrs. Obama:


    Photos: In Photos: Black History Month at the White House

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