Editor’s Note: 2 x 0 = ?
ANTALYA, Turkey (AP) — President Barack Obama pledged Sunday to redouble U.S. efforts to eliminate the Islamic State group and end the Syrian civil war that has fueled its rise, denouncing the extremist group’s horrifying terror spree in Paris as “an attack on the civilized world.”
Opening two days of talks with world leaders in Turkey, Obama pledged solidarity with France in the effort to hunt down the perpetrators and bring them to justice. He said “the skies have been darkened” by the Paris attacks, but offered no details about what the U.S. or its coalition partners might do to step up its assault against the Islamic State group.
“The killing of innocent people, based on a twisted ideology, is an attack not just on France, not just on Turkey, but it’s an attack on the civilized world,” Obama said after meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In addition to the Paris attacks, IS is blamed for two bombings in Turkey this year that killed roughly 130 people.
The specter of the Islamic State threat and Syria’s civil war hanged over the Turkish seaside city of Antalya as Obama and other leaders descended for the Group of 20 summit of leading rich and developing nations. Although the overlapping crises were already on the lineup for the two days of talks, they were thrust to the forefront by elaborately coordinated attacks that killed 129 in the French capital just two days earlier, in the most destructive attack in the West blamed on the extremist group.
In a fresh reminder of the Islamic State’s expanding capacity to wreak havoc, five Turkish police officers were injured Sunday when a suicide bomber blew himself up during a police raid on a suspected IS hideout near the Syrian border. Turkish security forces also rounded up 20 suspected IS militants in and around Antalya in the run-up to the G-20.
Although world leaders have offered sweeping condemnations of IS following the Paris attacks, they’ve struggled to offer concrete proposals for how to escalate the fight or more effectively rein the group in. Asked by reporters whether he would consider additional action against IS following the Paris attacks, Obama declined to tip his hand.
Obama’s meeting with Erdogan came at the start of a 9-day trip to Turkey, the Philippines and Malaysia that has already been largely overshadowed by Friday’s attacks in Paris and the related issues of Syria’s civil war and the resulting migrant crisis. Obama said the U.S. stands with Turkey and Europe in the effort to reduce the flow of migrants, and Erdogan predicted a “strong message” on fighting terrorism would come out of the summit.
“This terror attack was not just against the French people, it was against the whole of humanity,” Erdogan said. The summit’s host, Erdogan is fresh off his party’s impressive victory in Turkey’s recent elections, but his relations with Obama have been strained over tactical disagreements about how to push Assad out of power in Syria.