A day after tangling with Russian President Vladimir Putin over Syria, President Obama said Tuesday that he is leading a “global movement” to defeat the Islamic State with a strategy that includes replacing Syrian President Bashar Assad, who is receiving more military aid from Moscow.
Defeating the Islamic State in Syria “requires, I believe, a new leader,” Mr. Obama told foreign leaders at a U.N. summit.
“We are prepared to work with all countries, including Russia and Iran, to find a political mechanism…It is not going to be enough to defeat [the Islamic State] on the battlefield.”
During a closed-door meeting on Monday at the U.N., Mr. Obama and Mr. Putin disagreed sharply on the best way to take on the Islamic State in Syria. Russia is arming the Syrian military and sending troops there, with Mr. Putin saying the Assad government is the only effective force fighting the extremist group on the ground.
Mr. Obama told the summit on countering the Islamic State and violent extremism that military efforts alone won’t defeat the terrorist group. He said the international coalition must offer citizens in the region “a more attractive and compelling vision.”
“This is not going to be turned around overnight, because it is not just a military campaign that we are involved in,” Mr. Obama said. “There are problems that have been built up over decades that are expressing themselves… Even if we were to wipe out the entire cadre of [Islamic State] leadership, we would still have some of these forces at work.”