President Obama on Tuesday said the U.S. and its allies in the fight against the Islamic State can no longer tolerate the extremist group's ability to maintain headquarters in the major cities of Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq.
"One of my main messages today is that destroying ISIL continues to be my top priority, and so we can no longer tolerate the kinds of positioning that is enabling them having headquarters in Raqqa and Mosul," he said, referring to the Islamic State by its other shorthand name. "We've got to keep on putting pressure on them and obviously, that is not just a military operation, it is an intelligence and diplomatic effort as well."
The president made the remarks after a meeting with U.S. combatant commanders and joint chiefs of staff at the White House. Vice President Biden and National Security Advisor Susan Rice were on hand for the meeting, and a dinner with a group of military leaders was set to follow.
Obama lamented the group's ability to launch "serious terrorist attacks" in Turkey and Belgium, and said coalition forces recently severed the main highway between the Islamic State strongholds of Raqqa and Mosul. He also said the coalition would continue to take on the group's leadership, financial networks and infrastructure.
"We are going to squeeze them and we will defeat them," he said.
One of the topics discussed during the meeting, Obama said, was ensuring that the military is coordinating its anti-Islamic State campaign with the intelligence and diplomatic communities.
"This will continue to be a difficult fight, but I'm absolutely confident that ISIL will lose, we will prevail and once again this allows me to say thank you not only to these distinguished members of our armed forces, [but also] our core leadership that makes things happen day in day out," he said.