President Barack Obama has laid out his strategy to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the terrorist group ISIL. The brutal offshoot of al-Qaida has seized large portions of Iraq and Syria, and now poses a threat, not only to the Syrian and Iraqi people, but to the broader Middle East, and beyond.
President Obama announced the United States will lead a broad coalition of countries to eradicate ISIL, in a campaign that will take time but will succeed with a steady, relentless effort.
The President stated that the U.S. will conduct a systematic campaign of airstrikes in Iraq, expanding beyond the humanitarian and protective missions already in place, to hit ISIL targets as Iraqi forces increase the ground offensive in defense of the Iraqi people.
ISIL forces in Syria, Mr. Obama said, can also be targeted:
“I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are. That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq. This a core principle of my presidency: if you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”
In addition, the United States will increase support to forces fighting on the ground in Iraq and Syria, including by sending an additional 475 American service members to Iraq to help Iraqi and Kurdish forces with training, intelligence and equipment; and in Syria, by ramping up military assistance to the Syrian opposition.
Moreover, to prevent ISIL attacks, the U.S. will work with allies to redouble efforts to cut off the group’s funding; improve intelligence; strengthen defenses; counter ISIL’s warped ideology; and stem the flow of foreign fighters into and out of the Middle East. The United States will also continue to provide humanitarian assistance to innocent civilians who have been displaced by ISIL.
President Obama said in each of the four parts of this strategy, the U.S. will be joined by a broad coalition of partners, and noted that many countries are already involved. Secretary of State John Kerry is traveling to the Middle East and Europe to enlist more partners in this fight, “especially Arab nations who can help mobilize Sunni communities in Iraq and Syria to drive these terrorists from their lands.”
“This is American leadership at its best,” said President Obama. “We stand with people who fight for their own freedom, and we rally other nations on behalf of our common security and common humanity.”