President Barack Obama has vowed that the Islamic State terror group will be destroyed, following criticism he received from Republican presidential candidates about not doing enough to fight the radical Islamists.
Obama also spoke out against Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's comments in the campaign trail in which he says if he becomes president, he'll carpet bomb IS-held locations.
The American president further asserted that the U.S. will "continue to go after ISIL aggressively until it's removed from Syria and from Iraq and finally destroyed," CNN reported. Obama called the destruction of the terrorists a "top priority of ours," and added that "we can and we will" defeat terrorism.
Obama's comments follow the terror attacks on Tuesday in Brussels, where 31 people were killed in a series of suicide blasts at an airport and rush-hour metro.
After IS took responsibility for the attacks, GOP candidates Donald Trump and Cruz came out separately to call for a halt to Muslims coming to America, and to criticize Obama for not doing enough to defeat IS.
"I would be extremely careful about people from the Middle East coming into our country. I would be extremely careful as to what's going on," Trump said.
"You have an ISIS problem that's a massive problem. They want to come in, they want to do big damage, and I would be extremely careful about that."
Cruz added: "It is long past time that we had a president who will acknowledge this evil, will call it by its name and utilize the full force and fury of the United States to defeat radical Islamic terrorism to defeat ISIS."
The U.S., alongside a small coalition of international allies, has been hitting IS targets across Syria in airstrike operations, but has not sent combat troops on the ground to help push back against the spread of the terror group in the region.
In reaction to Cruz's suggestion that the U.S. should carpet bomb IS, Obama said Wednesday that such actions are "contrary to our values," and argued that it "would be an extraordinary mechanism for ISIL to recruit more people."
Obama also said the U.S. uses strong military force when necessary, but he is not going to launch a new set of attacks for no other purpose but to appease Republican criticism.
"When it comes to defending the United States or its allies and our core interests, I will not hesitate to use military force where necessary," Obama said.
"But how we do that is important," he added. "We just don't go ahead and blow something up just so we can go back home and say we blew something up. That's not a foreign policy."
Cruz said last year following the terror attack in San Bernardino, California: "We won't weaken them. We won't degrade them. We will utterly destroy them. We will carpet bomb them into oblivion. We will arm the Kurds. We will do everything necessary so that every militant on the face of the earth will know if you go and join ISIS, if you wage jihad and declare war on America, you are signing your death warrant."
The Texas senator later clarified his carpet bomb remarks in a December CNN Republican debate, where he described it as "using overwhelming air power to utterly and completely destroy ISIS."
He added: "You would carpet bomb where ISIS is — not a city, but the location of the troops. You use air power directed — and you have embedded special forces to (direct) the air power. But the object isn't to level a city. The object is to kill the ISIS terrorists."