- The Washington Times - Friday, December 18, 2015

President Obama vowed Friday to destroy the Islamic State, but he differs greatly from Republican presidential contenders who have said they want to “carpet bomb” areas in which the terrorist group operates.

At his annual year-end press conference, the president said the U.S. will continue bombing campaigns and other efforts to defeat the organization while also making clear he won’t rely solely on a military solution.

“There’s only so much bombing you can do when an entire country is outraged and believes its ruler doesn’t represent them,” the president told reporters.

His answer comes in stark contrast to Republican White House hopefuls such as Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who have suggested bombing the Islamic State into oblivion.

“You would carpet-bomb where ISIS is, not a city, but the location of the troops,” Mr. Cruz said during this week’s GOP primary debate.

Still, Mr. Obama said the Islamic State will be defeated. He stressed, however, that Syrian President Bashar Assad must be removed from power and a successor chosen before the country truly can find peace.

“We’re going to defeat ISIS. And we’re going to do so by systematically squeezing them, cutting off their supply lines, cutting off their financing, taking out their leadership, taking out their forces, taking out their infrastructure,” he said. “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. … So that’s going to continue to be a top priority for us.”

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