GOP rep: ISIS leader ‘probably right’ in dismissing airstrikes

New York Rep. Pete King (R), known for his hard-line stances on terrorism-related issues, said Sunday that the leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is “probably right” that U.S.-led airstrikes have not had a massive effect on the terrorist group.

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Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi reportedly released an audio message on Saturday in which he said that the airstrikes only fueled ISIS and mocked the United States for not sending ground troops to fight the terror group.

“Well I would expect al-Baghdadi to say that,” King said on “Fox News Sunday” when asked about the comments. “We’ve had some impact, but unfortunately overall he’s probably right that after 16 months of air attacks by the U.S. it’s had really minimal impact on ISIS considering how long those attacks have been going on."

"ISIS is stronger, I believe, than it was 16 months ago," he said. "As we know, they also do intend to attack the United States."

U.S. officials have been grappling with the rise of ISIS for over a year, with many on the right critical of President Obama's strategy for fighting the militant group. That criticism has intensified after ISIS was linked to attacks in San Bernardino, Calif. and Paris.

Al-Baghdadi's alleged message came on Saturday, right after Christians celebrated the Christmas holiday. If proven authentic, it is the first public message since May by the self-professed ISIS leader.