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President Barack Obama said he is confident the U.S. is safe against Paris-style attacks from ISIS

Obama also said that he thinks most Americans understand his definition of "no boots on the ground"

Washington CNN  — 

President Barack Obama said in an interview that aired Thursday that he is confident the U.S. is safe from a Paris-style attack from ISIS and that American law enforcement is well equipped to protect the nation during the holidays.

“ISIL will not pose an existential threat to us. They are a dangerous organization like al Qaeda was, but we have hardened our defenses,” Obama told CBS. “The American people should feel confident that, you know, we are going to be able to defend ourselves and make sure that, you know, we have a good holiday and go about our lives.”

His comments came amid reports that the FBI is investigating ISIS sympathizers across the nation and a new study shows support for the terrorist group has reached unprecedented levels domestically. But Obama called for calm and said that terrorists and ISIS “only win if we start reacting out of fear.”

The interview was taped Wednesday, as details were still coming out about the shooting in San Bernardino, California, and before the two suspects had been identified. He renewed his calls for gun control measures in a clip from the interview that aired Wednesday.

RELATED: Obama calls for gun reforms in wake of San Bernardino shooting

Obama also told CBS that when he promised “no boots on the ground” in the fight against ISIS, that Americans understood him to mean no “battalions,” and not that he wouldn’t send any troops there at all.

“When I said ‘no boots on the ground,’ I think the American people understood generally we are not going to do an Iraq-style invasion of Iraq or Syria with battalions that are moving across the desert,” Obama said in another clip CBS aired Thursday.

The White House announced in October that Obama had authorized “less than 50” special forces troops to deploy to Syria to assist rebels fighting ISIS. The announcement quickly drew criticism that he had done an about-face on a promise not to send more troops to the Middle East, amid fatigue with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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