Obama: US 'will not relent' in ISIS campaign

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Obama: Terror Attacks Not 'New Normal'

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) -- President Barack Obama said Sunday that the United States and its international partners "will not relent" in the fight against the Islamic State group and that the world would not accept the extremists' attacks on civilians in Paris and elsewhere as the "new normal."

"The most powerful tool we have is to say we are not afraid," Obama said as he wrapped up a nine-day trip to Turkey and Asia that was shadowed by terrorist attacks.

The president also pressed Russian President Vladimir Putin to align himself with the U.S.-led coalition, noting that IS has been accused of bringing down a Russian passenger jet last month, killing 224 people.

"He needs to go after the people who killed Russian citizens," he said of Putin.

The president spoke in Malaysia shortly before departing for Washington. His trip also took him to the Philippines and Turkey, where he met with Putin on the sidelines of an international summit.

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While Russia has stepped up its air campaign in Syria, Obama said Moscow has focused its attention on moderate rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad, a Russian ally. He called on Russia to make a "strategic adjustment" and drop its support for Assad, insisting the violence in Syria cannot be stopped as long as Assad is in office.

"It will not work to keep him in power," Obama said. "We can't stop the fighting."

Nearly five years of fighting between the Assad government and rebels has created a vacuum that allowed IS to thrive in both Syria and Iraq. The militant group is now setting its sights on targets outside its stronghold, including the attacks in Paris that killed 130 people and wounded hundreds more.

Learn more about the lives lost in Paris:

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Obama: US 'will not relent' in ISIS campaign
Pictures of victims, flowers and candles are set in memory in front of Le Bataclan concert hall in Paris, France, Tuesday Nov. 17, 2015, four days after over 120 people were killed in a series of shooting and explosions. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
In this undated photo provided by Christophe N'Guyen, Cedric Gomet poses for a photograph in Paris. Gomet, of Paris, was a technician for French television network TV5Monde, when he died in the Nov. 13, 2015 Paris attacks. (Christophe N'Guyen/TV5Monde via AP)
Pictures of victims, flowers and candles are set in front of Le Bataclan concert hall in Paris, France, Tuesday Nov. 17, 2015, four days after over 130 people were killed in a series of shooting and explosions. Here is a memorial for Thomas Duperron, reading "rest in peace and in music".(AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
Pictures of victims, flowers and candles are set in memory in front of Le Bataclan concert hall in Paris, France, Tuesday Nov. 17, 2015, four days after over 120 people were killed in a series of shooting and explosions. Displayed is a memorial for Suzon. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
This photo courtesy of Ombeline Le Gendre shows Pierre Innocenti, left, and Stéphane Albertini. Innocenti and Albertini died in the Nov. 13, 2015 Paris attacks when they both went to the Bataclan to enjoy the rock music they both loved. (photo courtesy of Ombeline Le Gendre via AP)
Pictures of victims, flowers and candles are set in memory in front of Le Bataclan concert hall in Paris, France, Tuesday Nov. 17, 2015, four days after over 120 people were killed in a series of shooting and explosions. Displayed, is a memorial for Mathieu Hoche.(AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
This undated photo provided by Mathilde Mayet shows Lamia Mondeguer. Mondeguer died in the Nov. 13, 2015 Paris attacks while celebrating a friend’s birthday at the La Belle Equipe bar. (Mathilde Mayet via AP)
This undated photo provided by Mathilde Mayet shows Lamia Mondeguer. Mondeguer died in the Nov. 13, 2015 Paris attacks while celebrating a friend’s birthday at the La Belle Equipe bar. (Mathilde Mayet via AP)
Pictures of victims, flowers and candles are set in memory in front of Le Bataclan concert hall in Paris, France, Tuesday Nov. 17, 2015, four days after over 120 people were killed in a series of shooting and explosions. Displayed is a memorial for Cecil and Luis .(AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
In this photo taken on Sept. 9, 2011 photo provided by Nicolas Louis, Eric Thome poses for a photograph in Paris. Thome, 39, was an artist, fan of music and father with a 5-year-old girl and another child on the way when he died during the terrorst attack at Bataclan concert hall in Paris. Thome and a partner were running their own Paris design studio after working in the advertising business for years. (Nicolas Louis via AP)
This undated family handout photo issued by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office on Saturday Nov. 14, 2015 shows Nick Alexander of England. Nick Alexander, one of the victims of the attacks in Paris, was working at the Bataclan concert hall selling merchandise for the performing band. (Foreign & Commonwealth Office via AP)
Pictures of victims, flowers and candles are set in memory in front of Le Bataclan concert hall in Paris, France, Tuesday Nov. 17, 2015, four days after over 120 people were killed in a series of shooting and explosions.(AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
Pictures of victims, flowers and candles are set in front of Le Bataclan concert hall in Paris, France, Tuesday Nov. 17, 2015, four days after over 130 people were killed in a series of shooting and explosions. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
This photo courtesy of Eric Fourmentin shows Romain Didier. Didier died in the Nov. 13, 2015 Paris attacks while celebrating a friend’s birthday at the La Belle Equipe bar. (Courtesy of Eric Fourmentin via AP)

This undated photo provided by Julien Noel shows Pierre-Antoine Henry. By profession, Henry was an engineer for a company that designed systems for military use. But the father of two was also a dedicated rock fan who had traveled far and wide to see his favorite band, Pearl Jam, said childhood friend Noel. Henry had followed his yen for music to the Eagles of Death Metal show at the Bataclan, where he was killed Friday, Nov. 13, 2015, in Paris. (Julien Noel via AP)

Pictures of victims, flowers and candles are set in front of Le Bataclan concert hall in Paris, France, Tuesday Nov. 17, 2015, four days after over 130 people were killed in a series of shooting and explosions. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
In this 2013 photo provided by Leslie Winer, Anne Cornet Guyomard and Pierre-Yves Guyomard are showered with confetti on their wedding day in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France. The couple was killed during the attacks in Paris, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. (Christophe Van Huffel/Leslie Winer via AP)
In this 2013 photo provided by Leslie Winer, Anne Cornet Guyomard and Pierre-Yves Guyomard pose for a photo while seated in a car on their wedding day in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France. The couple was killed during the attacks in Paris, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. (Christophe Van Huffel/Leslie Winer via AP)
Pictures of victims, flowers and candles are set in memory in front of Le Bataclan concert hall in Paris, France, Tuesday Nov. 17, 2015, four days after over 120 people were killed in a series of shooting and explosions.(AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
An undated photo provided by Joseph Anticevic shows his wife Armelle Pumir Anticevic riding in one of Joseph's cruise boats, named for her. Armelle Pumir Anticevic, 46-year-old mother of two children, ages 9 and 11, was a victim of the Paris attacks. She died at the rock concert at Bataclan hall, where she and her husband had gone to celebrate. He survived. (Joseph Anticevic via AP)
Pictures of victims, flowers and candles are set in front of Le Bataclan concert hall in Paris, France, Tuesday Nov. 17, 2015, four days after over 130 people were killed in a series of shooting and explosions. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
Pictures of victims, flowers and candles are set in memory in front of Le Bataclan concert hall in Paris, France, Tuesday Nov. 17, 2015, four days after over 120 people were killed in a series of shooting and explosions. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

This undated photo provided by Eponyme Galerie shows Alban Denuit, who was killed during attacks claimed by the Islamic State group that took place in several locations in Paris on Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. Denuit, a 32-year-old American, was a teacher and an artist whose work had been exhibited in Paris. (Eponyme Galerie via AP)

Pictures of victims, flowers and candles are set in front of Le Bataclan concert hall in Paris, France, Tuesday Nov. 17, 2015, four days after over 130 people were killed in a series of shooting and explosions. Here is a memorial for Pierre, reading "you were the joy of life". (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
This December 2012 photo provided by Stephen Fox shows Fanny Minot, one of the victims in the deadly attacks in Paris that occurred Friday, Nov. 13, 2015, in Paris. Minot, 29, was an editor at the show, "Le Supplement." "She was such a loving, compassionate person, with such an adventurous view on life," said her friend Stephen Fox. (Stephen Fox via AP)
This December 2012 photo provided by Stephen Fox shows Fanny Minot, one of the victims in the deadly attacks in Paris that occurred Friday, Nov. 13, 2015, in Paris. Minot, 29, was an editor at the show, "Le Supplement." "She was such a loving, compassionate person, with such an adventurous view on life," said her friend Stephen Fox. (Stephen Fox via AP)
This December 2012 photo provided by Stephen Fox shows Fanny Minot, one of the victims in the deadly attacks in Paris that occurred Friday, Nov. 13, 2015, in Paris. Minot, 29, was an editor at the show, "Le Supplement." "She was such a loving, compassionate person, with such an adventurous view on life," said her friend Stephen Fox. (Stephen Fox via AP)
Pictures of victims, flowers and candles are set in front of Le Bataclan concert hall in Paris, France, Tuesday Nov. 17, 2015, four days after over 130 people were killed in a series of shooting and explosions. Here is a memorial for Stephane, reading "you left with this music you loved so much, bon voyage".(AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

This 2012 photo courtesy of Caroline Jolivet shows Christophe Foultier at Lake Tahoe, Calif. Foultier died in the Nov. 13, 2015 Paris attacks while watching the band Eagles of Death Metal at the Bataclan. (Courtesy of Caroline Jolivet via AP)

Pictures of victims, flowers and candles are set in front of Le Bataclan concert hall in Paris, France, Tuesday Nov. 17, 2015, four days after over 130 people were killed in a series of shooting and explosions. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
This 2009 photo provided by Yaneyla Hernandez shows Sven Silva, right, with friends Andres Borges, center, and Tomas Corridore, in Rio Chico, Miranda state, Venezuela. Silva was killed in the Nov. 13, 2015, Paris terrorists attacks, when he had traveled to Paris to meet up with two old friends and he decided to head to the show at the Bataclan. (Yaneyla Hernandez via AP)
Pictures of victims, flowers and candles are set in front of Le Bataclan concert hall in Paris, France, Tuesday Nov. 17, 2015, four days after over 130 people were killed in a series of shooting and explosions. Here, are memorials for Nico Classeau, Germain Ferey and Estelle.(AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
A picture of a victim of the attack on Bataclan concert hall reads "our teacher" and "r.i.p Romain Dunet" on makeshift memorial outside the Bataclan, the site of one of the six coordinates attacks which claimed the most victims in Paris, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015. France is demanding security aid and assistance from the European Union in the wake of the Paris attacks and has triggered a never-before-used article in the EU's treaties to secure it. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
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French President Francois Hollande is due to meet with Obama at the White House on Tuesday to discuss ways to bolster the international coalition fighting the Islamic State. Hollande then heads to Russia for talks with Putin.

The discussions about a military coalition to defeat IS come amid parallel talks about a diplomatic solution to end Syria's civil war. The violence has killed more than 250,000 people and displaced millions, sparking a refugee crisis in Europe.

Foreign ministers from about 20 nations agreed last week to an ambitious yet incomplete plan that sets a Jan. 1 deadline for the start of negotiations between Assad's government and opposition groups. Within six months, the negotiations are to establish a "credible, inclusive and nonsectarian" transitional government that would set a schedule for drafting a new constitution and holding a free and fair U.N.-supervised election within 18 months.

The Paris attacks have heightened fears of terrorism in the West and also sparked a debate in the U.S. about accepting refugees from Syria. It's unclear whether any of the terrorists in the Paris attacks exploited the refugee system to enter Europe, though Obama has insisted that's not a legitimate security threat in the United States.

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Still, the U.S. House passed legislation last week essentially blocking Syrian and Iraqi refugees from the U.S. Democrats in large numbers abandoned the president, with 47 voting for the legislation. Having secured a veto-proof majority in the House, supporters are now hoping for a repeat in the U.S. Senate, while Obama works to shift the conversation to milder visa waiver changes that wouldn't affect Syrian refugees.

Obama has focused his ire on Republicans throughout the trip, harshly criticizing GOP lawmakers and presidential candidates for acting contrary to American values. He took a softer tone Sunday, saying he understands Americans' concerns but urging them not to give into fear.

He said IS "can't beat us on the battlefield so they try to terrorize us into being afraid." The president declared, "We will destroy this terrorist organization."

Speaking dismissively of IS' global prowess, Obama said, "They're a bunch of killers with good social media."

The president also paid tribute to Nohemi Gonzalez, a 23-year-old from California who was killed in the Paris attacks, and Anita Ashok Datar, a 41-year-old from Maryland who died in Friday's attack in Mali. He said the women reminded him of his teenage daughters and his late mother.

"It is worth us remembering when we look at the statistics that there are beautiful, wonderful lives behind the terrible death tolls we see in these places," he said.

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