A top aide to President Obama says the White House agrees that the Paris attacks are an act of war — the continuation of an ongoing war with the Islamic State.
“We’ve been at war with ISIL for some time,” said deputy national adviser Ben Rhodes, speaking on NBC’s Meet The Press.
Rhodes, who did a string of Sunday interviews while accompanying Obama to Turkey for a Group of 20 nations summit, said the administration also agrees with France that Friday’s attacks were carried out by the Islamic State, also known as ISIL.
“Anytime you have this type of indiscriminate targeting of innocent civilians, we see that as an act of war by a terrorist group,” Rhodes said on ABC’s This Week. “That’s why, frankly, we’ve been waging war against ISIL now for over a year with thousands of airstrikes and support for partners who are fighting them on the ground.”
Those efforts will intensify in light of Paris, Rhodes said, and the U.S. will work with French authorities to track down perpetrators of those specific attacks.
Rhodes also defended Obama against criticism of his comment last week that the Islamic State is being contained. The aide say the president was referring to territory being held within Iraq and Syria by the Islamic State.
“They had been on the march in both Iraq and Syria for some time,” Rhodes said. “But starting a year ago, we were able to halt that expansion.”
Obama’s critics, including the Republican presidential candidates, also called the Paris attacks proof that the administration’s strategy against the Islamic State is not working.
On CNN’s State of the Union, Rhodes said that defeating the Islamic State is “a long-term challenge … there will be setbacks.”
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