President Obama: 'We are hitting ISIL harder than ever'

President Obama: ISIS Continues to Lose Territory in Iraq, Syria
President Obama: ISIS Continues to Lose Territory in Iraq, Syria



President Obama announced Monday he is sending his defense secretary to Iraq to review the ongoing fight against ISIS.

Obama said Ash Carter would head to the war-torn region immediately. And he tried once again to reassure nervous Americans that ISIS would be defeated, saying they are taking out the group's leaders "one by one."

"This continues to be a difficult to fight," Obama said.

But once again Obama offered no new strategy solutions for dealing with ISIS.

"We are hitting ISIL harder than ever," Obama said using an alternative name for the terrorist group. Obama, who was flanked by top military leaders, described the increased number of airstrikes and defeated ISIS leaders.

Obama made brief but public comments from the Pentagon on Monday — remarks aimed at reassuring the American public of his administration's commitment to fighting the rise of ISIS. Polls have shown that Americans have been increasingly concerned about ISIS after the wake of deadly Paris attacks and the mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif.

"We're going after (ISIS) from their stronghold," Obama said.

RELATED GALLERY: See photos of Obama speaking out on terrorism

Obama spoke after the meeting with military and national security leaders at the Pentagon — and after taking months of flak from Republicans for refusing to take a more muscular approach to dealing with ISIS.

The president, who was elected on a promise to extricate the U.S. from the deeply unpopular war in Iraq that his GOP critics wholeheartedly supported, had been reluctant to send American ground forces in to battle the head-chopping fanatics.

But earlier this month, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced that the U.S. would deploy 100 to 150 special operations forces that would conduct ground combat raids against ISIS targets in both Syria and Iraq.

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Then, in only his third address to the nation from the Oval Office, Obama tried to reassure Americans unnerved by the San Bernardino slaughter that the U.S. had a handle on the "evolving" threat of terrorism and vowed to destroy ISIS.

But once again, Obama cautioned against a "costly ground war" saying it would serve only as a recruitment tool for ISIS and result in more American deaths.

Predictably, Obama's speech was panned by Donald Trump and the other Republicans running for president. But even some Obama supporters criticized the address saying he offered no new solutions to dealing with ISIS.

More from NBCNews.com:
Special Ops Force to Fight ISIS in Iraq: Defense Secretary Carter
U.S. Sending 450 Military Personnel to Iraq for Ramadi Battle
Defense Secretary: 'We Won't Hesitate to Confront ISIS'