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The Islamic State and U.S. Policy

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The Islamic State IS, aka the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISILISIS, or the Arabic acronym Daesh is a transnational Sunni Islamist insurgent and terrorist group that controls large areas of Iraq and Syria, has affiliates in several other countries, has attracted a network of global supporters, and disrupts international security with its campaigns of violence and terrorism. The U.S.-led coalition military campaign against the Islamic State organization in Iraq and Syria has adapted since 2014, as Administration officials and coalition partners have implemented changes in strategy and tactics that have reduced the area controlled by the group and eliminated thousands of its personnel. While the Islamic State has suffered losses on the ground in Iraq, Syria, and Libya, a series of terrorist attacks attributed to the group or to individuals it has inspired have claimed hundreds of lives on four continents since November 2015, including in the United States. A number of countries, including the United States, share an interest in further weakening the group and preventing future attacks. Members of Congress, executive branch officials, and their international counterparts continue to debate a range of proposals for extending battlefield gains made to date and preventing the Islamic State from succeeding in its stated objectives of remaining and expanding. President Obamas goals for U.S. strategy were to degrade and ultimately defeat the Islamic State through U.S. direct military action and support for local partner forces. The U.S. military has conducted operations against the group in Iraq, Syria, and Libya. Parallel U.S. diplomatic efforts have promoted political reconciliation in each country among local factions. In other countries, such as Egypt and Nigeria, the United States provides security assistance to partner governments in support of operations against Islamic State affiliates.

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