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The day President Barack Obama made "strategic patience" a central element of his national security strategy, the latest death toll in the Syrian civil war came out: 210,060 people, nearly half of them civilians.Few other conflicts have prompted as much criticism of Obama's leadership and foreign relations savvy as the Syrian war and the rise of ISIS. That looks like wishful thinking, particularly as far as the Syrian war and the fight against ISIS are concerned.Despite more than 1,200 U.S.-led airstrikes on ISIS targets in Iraq and 932 to date on the group in Syria, ISIS still controls almost all the territory in the two countries it held when Obama announced the beginning of the air campaign on Iraq in August. It was extended to Syria in September – at which time a gradual U.S. shift away from the aim of ousting Assad became glaringly obvious.At the time, Obama argued in a TV interview that ISIS was a more-immediate concern than confronting Assad and acknowledged a "contradiction in a contradictory land and a contradictory circumstance".
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