US President Barack Obama said during a 4 August news conference that the Islamic State (Isis) has lost ground in Iraq and Syria but warned that the terrorist group continues to pose a threat. The president said that Isis appears to be shifting its attention to attacking cities abroad.

"The possibility of a lone actor or a small cell that kills people is real," Obama said during a Pentagon press briefing following a meeting with his National Security Council. According to the BBC, he added that terrorist networks in the US could be activated. However, Obama maintained that the jihadist group is "not invincible".

"In fact, they are inevitably going to be defeated," the president said. Obama predicted that Isis would lose both its self-proclaimed caliphate capital of Raqqa, Syria and its stronghold of Mosul, Iraq. Obama noted that Isis "has not had a major successful offensive operation in Syria or Iraq in a full year," the BBC reported.

While it has not had successes at home, the terrorist group has claimed success in high-profile attacks in France, Germany, Bangladesh and other countries. "What Isil [another name for Isis] has figured out is if they can convince a handful of people, or even one person, to carry out an attack on a subway, or a parade, or some other public venue and kill scores of people as opposed to thousands of people, it still creates the kind of fear and concerns that elevates their profile," he said.

President Barack Obama
U.S. President Barack Obama holds a news conference at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, U.S. August 4, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Obama continued: "So in some ways, rooting out these networks for smaller, less complicated attacks is tougher because it doesn't require as many resources on their part or preparation, but it does mean we have to do even more to generate the intelligence and to work with our partners in order to degrade those networks."

"Isil can't defeat the United States of America or our Nato partners," Obama said, adding: "Their military defeat will not be enough. ...That's why we're working to counter violent extremism more broadly, including the social, economic and political factors that help fuel groups like Isil and al-Qaeda in the first place."

Obama's remarks come as the US ramps up its attacks against the terrorist organisation. The US began an airstrike campaign in Libya earlier this week to attack the Isis-held city of Sirte, NPR reported. Sirte, the hometown of former dictator Moammar Gadhafi, has been held by the terrorist group since August 2015.