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Obama holds meeting at Pentagon on fight against ISIS as US ramps up roles in Libya, Iraq

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WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is assessing what’s working and what’s not in the fight against the Islamic State group as the U.S. military ramps up its action plans.

After meeting Thursday with military and national security advisers at the Pentagon, Obama took questions during a news conference. Vice President Joe Biden was in the meeting at the Pentagon as well.

“We refuse to let terrorists and voices of division undermine the unity and values of diversity and pluralism that keep our nation strong,” Obama said.

The session comes as the U.S. announced airstrikes in and around the Libyan city of Sirte this week in a notable expansion of the U.S.-led coalition’s military mission against ISIS. Military leaders are also currently working with Iraqi forces to devise a strategy to retake Mosul from the terror group, as well as bolster security in Baghdad.

Obama typically convenes meetings of the National Security Council at the White House, but over the past year he has occasionally held them at other agencies like the State Department and the CIA. The goal of the road show at the Pentagon is to illustrate the multifaceted U.S. approach to defeating ISIS.

“Our air campaign continues to hammer ISIL targets. More than 14,000 strikes so far,” Obama said when briefing the media. “Our air campaign continues to hammer ISIL targets. More than 14,000 strikes so far.”

He added that in Syria, our campaigns have been successful in limiting ISIS’ capabilities.

“ISIL has not had a major successful offensive operation in either Syria or Iraq in a full year,” he said. However, he acknowledged that ISIS militants will probably continue to be a threat to the U.S. even after the group is ousted from key strongholds in Iraq and Syria, especially since the group continues to inspire people to carry out lone wolf-type attacks on subways or parades to sow fear and elevate its profile.

He says the U.S. and its NATO allies must not succumb to fear and should “keep on grinding away” against the group.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the Bastille Day attack in Nice, France, last month that killed more than 80 people. It was also tied to the Orlando nightclub shootings that killed 49.

During the question session, also criticized Russia for its continuing support of Syrian government attacks against opposition forces and its sieges of populated areas like Aleppo.

Obama said the Russian actions raise “very serious questions” about Moscow’s commitment to pulling the situation “back from the brink.”

Obama told reporters at the Pentagon on Thursday that the U.S. will continue to try to cooperate with Russia to reduce the violence and focus the fight on the Islamic State group and other extremists.

He is accusing Russia of failing to take the necessary steps to do that, though, adding that deteriorating conditions make it imperative for Russia to show it is serious.

With additional reporting from CNN

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