The Islamic extremists that have taken hold of parts of Syria and Iraq represent a "significant threat" to NATO members, President Obama said at the end of a two-day NATO Summit in Wales.
Among NATO allies, "there was a recognition that we have to take action" against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS, also known as ISIL), Mr. Obama said. "There's great conviction that we have to act as part of the international community to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL."
After some question as to whether the Obama administration aimed to destroy or simply contain ISIS, Mr. Obama's remarks Friday were more assertive.
"You can't contain an organization that is running roughshod through that much territory, causing that much havoc, displacing that many people, killing that many innocents, enslaving that many women," he said. "The goal has to be to dismantle them."
NATO allies this week committed to help Iraq fight ISIS, should Iraqi leaders ask for help. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met with 10 of their NATO counterparts to create a coalition to fight the group. Kerry on Friday ruled out boots on the ground in Syria, calling that a "red line for everybody."
The coalition has the ability to "destroy ISIL," Kerry said, noting "it may take a year, it may take two years, it may take three years."
Kerry will now travel to that region, Mr. Obama said Friday, "to have further consultation with the regional actors."
Mr. Obama said it is "absolutely critical that we have Arab states and specifically Sunni majority states that are rejecting the kind of extremist nihilism that we're seeing out of ISIL... and are prepared to join us actively in the fight."
The coalition against ISIS, he said, will have to help Iraqi security forces and moderate forces in Syria build up the capability to fight ISIS.
"Our goal is to act with urgency, but also to make sure we're doing it right," he said. That means choosing the right targets, finding support on the ground before conducting airstrikes and supporting a strong political coalition and diplomatic efforts.
"It's not gonna happen overnight. But we are steadily moving in the right direction," Mr. Obama said.