White House Defends Setbacks Against ISIS: ‘We Are In The Degrade Phase’

Iraqi family members who left their hometown of Ramadi walk towards Baghdad, outside Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, 115 kilometers (70 miles) west of Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, May 15, 2015. Islamic State militants seized the center of Ramadi in western Iraq and raised their black flag over the government …
AP Photo

During the White House Press briefing today, Press Secretary Josh Earnest defended President Obama’s “degrade and destroy” strategy against Islamic State terrorists, arguing that coalition forces are still making progress.

“Overall, we are in the degrade phase of this effort and we are making progress in degrading the capability of ISIL,” Earnest explained to reporters.

Earnest cited the weekend special forces operations in Syria, which killed a senior ISIS leader and captured valuable intelligence as well as a woman who was currently being interrogated.

Other cities taken back from ISIS, such as Kobani and Tikrit, Earnest argued, are proof that the operation was succeeding.”

Earnest suggested critics of the Obama’s strategy only wanted more ground troops in the region, something that the president was opposed to.

He admitted that the White House is “deeply concerned” about the fall of the Syrian city of Palmyra to ISIS.

White House reporter John Karl questioned Earnest about reports that ISIS used 30 vehicle bombs to defeat troops in Ramadi, ten of which were as powerful as the Oklahoma City truck bombing.

“That’s what degrading ISIS capabilities looks like?” Karl asked with disbelief.

“This is what a military conflict looks like, and this is what a very tenacious adversary looks like,” Earnest replied, pointing out that Obama took the battle seriously.

When asked if ISIS has succeeded in establishing a caliphate in the Middle East, Earnest replied. “No. I don’t believe that at all.”