The U.S. President, Barack Obama, has said that America will lead an international effort to defeat Islamic State (IS or ISIS), the Sunni-led group that currently rules part of Iraq and Syria.
The group, which metamorphosed from an al-Qaeda affiliate, has killed thousands of people, particularly ethnic and religious minorities, as well as two American journalists it held captive.
While the U.S. has launched airstrikes on the group within Iraqi territory, it had not done same in Syria, due to what analysts described as non-violation of international law, and so as not to be seen to strengthen the Bashar Assad regime in Syria which the U.S. wants removed.
However, in his nationwide broadcast on Wednesday night (American time), Mr. Obama said the U.S. would also launch air strikes on IS (also known as Islamic State in Syria and Levante, ISIL) within Syria and “wherever they exist”.
“Our objective is clear: We will degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained air strikes strategy,” Mr. Obama said.
The American President said IS was a threat not only to Iraq and Syria, but also to its middle-eastern neighbours and to Americans. The group’s leader had also threatened to attack the U.S.
“I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are,” Mr. Obama said. “That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq. This is a core principle of my presidency: if you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”
More American forces in Iraq
Mr. Obama also pledged that the U.S. would provide 475 more military advisers to Iraq, bringing the total in the country to 1,700.
He, however, said the U.S. would not be deploying ground troops to the country.
“It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil,” Mr. Obama said.
He pledged more assistance and training to Syrian rebels fighting both the Assad regime and IS; and pledged to work with allies in the middle east, particularly Saudi Arabia to defeat IS.
This is not our fight alone,” Mr. Obama said. “American power can make a decisive difference, but we cannot do for Iraqis what they must do for themselves, nor can we take the place of Arab partners in securing their region.”