World

Obama: U.S. will ‘do what’s necessary to protect our people’ in wake of terrorist attack


Ottawa (CNN)President Barack Obama said Wednesday his government would continue to “do what’s necessary to protect our people” against terrorists, vowing defeat of the groups who carry out attacks like Tuesday’s at Istanbul’s international airport.

“I’m confident that we can and we will defeat those who offer only death and destruction, and we will always remember, even as there are those trying to divide us, that we are stronger when we come together and work toward a better world together,” Obama said during a news conference in Canada, where he is traveling for a day of meetings.
Earlier, Obama said the U.S. was “heartbroken” at images of casualties after a major terror attack at Istanbul’s international airport, a message he said he relayed to Turkey’s leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a phone call earlier in the day.
Speaking for the first time about the massacre, Obama said the United States stands with the people of Turkey in their bid to combat terror.
And he insisted ISIS — who has not claimed responsibility for the attack, but has carried out similar assaults — was on its heels.
“It’s an indication of how little these vicious organizations have to offer beyond killing innocents,” Obama said. “They’re continually losing ground, unable to govern those areas that they have taken over. They’re going to be defeated in Syria, they’re going to be defeated in Iraq.”
“We will not rest until we have dismantled these networks of hate that have had an impact on the entire civilized world,” Obama said.
Obama was speaking in Ottawa at the end of a meeting with Mexican President Enrique Pena Neito.
Earlier Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Obama offered Turkey support as they investigate the terror blasts.
“The President placed that phone call to express his deep condolences on behalf of the American people. In the context of that call, he will offer any support that the Turks can benefit from as they conduct this investigation and take steps to further strengthen their security,” Earnest told reporters aboard Air Force One as Obama flew to Canada for a day of meetings.
Earnest said the attack will likely be discussed at next week’s NATO summit in Poland as well. Turkey is a NATO member, which means the U.S. is treaty-bound to protect the country.
Earnest said Wednesday that he didn’t have any update on how and when U.S. assistance in Turkey would be utilized.
Many officials believe that ISIS, also known as ISIL, is behind Tuesday’s attack on Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport, which killed more than 40 people, despite no claims of responsibility by the organization.
Earnest said the U.S. continues to make progress against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, but that the White House “continues to be concerned by the ability ISIL has to carry out terror attacks.”
“We have made great progress and the Turks have made important progress in shutting off that border,” Earnest said, referring to the boundary between Syria and Turkey through which many ISIS fighters have transited. “But there’s more work to be done.”
Earnest said the U.S. stood prepared to share any useful information about the investigation with Turkish authorities but didn’t yet have details about the work of American intelligence agencies looking into the attack.
Obama last spoke with Erdoğan two weeks ago, when the Turkish leader phoned Washington to express his condolences following the Orlando terror attack.
The pair have a complicated relationship: Obama has pressed Erdoğan to take more steps to combat ISIS in his country, including better tracking the foreign fighters moving through the country to and from Syria. He’s also pressed Erdoğan to enact Democratic reforms even as the Turkish leader seeks to consolidate power.
The attack is likely to arise in discussions in Ottawa Wednesday, where Obama will meet both separately and together with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.