Obama says US will not hesitate to strike IS in Syria
The American president says the U.S. will expand the scope of airstrikes on Islamic State militants beyond protecting Americans and humanitarian missions.

The U.S. will not hesitate to take action against Islamic State militants in Syria in addition to expanding the scope of airstrikes against the militant group in Iraq as part of a broad coalition to root it out, according to U.S. President Barack Obama.

During a nationally televised address Wednesday night, Obama said that the U.S. will degrade and destroy the insurgent terror group through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy.

"First, we will conduct a systematic campaign of airstrikes against these terrorists," he said. "Working with the Iraqi government, we will expand our efforts beyond protecting our own people and humanitarian missions, so that we’re hitting ISIL targets as Iraqi forces go on offense."

The Islamic State is also referred to as theIslamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL.

The U.S. so far has conducted more than 150 airstrikes on IS targets within the scope of Obama's authorization to protect Americans and humanitarian missions.

Obama added that "the counter-terrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort" to roll back IS militants, underscoring that American ground troops will not be involved in the operations.

The president also reiterated that terrorists who threaten the U.S will be hunted down wherever they are, including Syria where the extremist insurgent group has created a safe-haven taking advantage of the chaos in the country.

"This is a core principle of my presidency – if you threaten America, you will find no safe haven," he said.

"Now let’s make two things clear. ISIL is not 'Islamic,'Obama said. "No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim. And ISIL is certainly not a state. It was formerly al-Qaida’s affiliate in Iraq, and has taken advantage of sectarian strife and Syria’s civil war to gain territory on both sides of the Iraq-Syrian border. Itis recognized by no government, nor the people it subjugates. ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple. And it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way," he added.

Additional troops to Iraq

Obama said that 475 additional U.S. military personnel would be deployed to Iraq but these forces will not have a combat mission.

"We will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq. But they are needed to support Iraqi and Kurdish forces with training, intelligence and equipment."

The U.S. has so far deployed more than 1,000 military personnel to Iraq to train and advise the Iraqi forces and to protect U.S. facilities in Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government capital of Erbil.

According to a fact sheet released by the White House, in addition to providing weapons, ammunition and equipment, U.S. Special Operations Forces will train and advise Iraqi and Kurdish forces.

"The new Iraqi government has asked for help forming national guard units that would be recruited locally and be responsible for protecting their own communities and securing areas freed from ISIL's control," the information read.

During h is speechObama also said that the U.S. would support Iraq’s efforts to establish national guard units to help Sunni communities.

Support for Syrian opposition

As the Syrian civil war enabled the militant group to create a safe haven, several analysts and U.S. officials previously noted that IS cannot be uprooted unless its Syrian bases are addressed.

President Obama, in an exclusive interview with NBC News last weekend said that he would support the Syrian moderate opposition forces to fight IS on the ground.

"We're going to have to develop a moderate Sunni opposition that can control territory and that we can work with," he added.

During his address, he called on Congress to give the administration additional authorities and resources to train and equip Syrian opposition fighters.

"In the fight against ISIL, we cannot rely on an (Bashar) Assad regime that terrorizes its people; a regime that will never regain the legitimacy it has lost," he said. "Instead, we must strengthen the opposition as the best counterweight to extremists like ISIL."

The White House noted that the Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund has requested approval of $5 billion in funds that would allow the administration to train, build capacity, and facilitate support for U.S. partner countries on the front lines of countering shared terrorist threats, in the region and beyond.

UN Security Council to mobilize international community to cut off IS funding

President Obama also said that he would redouble efforts to cut off IS’ funding and stem the flow of foreign fighters into and out of the Middle East.

"In two weeks, I will chair a meeting of the UN Security Council to further mobilize the international community around this effort." he said.

He noted that the U.S. would continue providing humanitarian assistance to civilians who have been displaced by the terrorist group.

"Th is includes Sunni and Shia Muslims who are at grave risk, as well as tens of thousands of Christians and other religious minorities. We cannot allow these communities to be driven from their ancient homelands,"Obama said.

Coalition of partners expanding

Obama said that the U.S. would be joined by a broad coalition, as the fight is not that of U.S.’ alone.

"Already, allies are flying planes with us over Iraq; sending arms and assistance to Iraqi security forces and the Syrian opposition; sharing intelligence; and providing billions of dollars in humanitarian aid."

Secretary of State John Kerry will travel across the Middle East and Europe to enlist more partners in the fight against IS, especially Arab nations that can help mobilize Sunni communities in Iraq and Syria to drive the terror group out of the region, Obama said.

"This is American leadership at its best. We stand with people who fight for their own freedom; and we rally other nations on behalf of our common security and common humanity," he added

Obama also noted that unlike the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, this fight would see U.S. counter-terrorism efforts similar to the ones in Yemen and Somalia. That is, instead of ground troops, the operations would be based on specific targets, where jets and drones would be used.

Last Modified: 2014-09-11 07:59:38
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