President Barack Obama announced that the U.S. will carry out “a steady, relentless effort to take out” the Islamic State militants that have declared a caliphate in the border region between Iraq and Syria, authorizing American airstrikes in Syria for the first time.
The US will also increase operations in Iraq, the United States President indicated, adding that 500 additional troops would be deployed in the country to aid and train embattled Iraqi troops, Kurdish fighters, and Sunni tribes against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, reports Associated Press.
“We will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are,” Obama said from the White House. “This is a core principle of my presidency: If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”
“So tonight, with a new Iraqi government in place, and following consultations with allies abroad and Congress at home, I can announce that America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat,” Obama said.
[quote text_size=”small” author=”U.S. President Barack Obama”]
Our objective is clear: we will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy,
Prompted by the killings of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, the U.S. has increased operations in Iraq and has carried more than 150 airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq, TIME reported.
Obama has also urged Congress to pass a program that would aid and equip moderate Syrian rebels against the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, to support American airstrikes on Syrian grounds.
However, the president maintained that the U.S. will not redeploy combat troops in the region.
This dramatic escalation in Middle East operations is a striking shift in Obama’s policy, who rose to popularity in part due to his opposition of the Iraq War. In his first few years in the office, he moved to withdraw troops in the Middle East and decrease American operations in the region to avoid new conflicts.
He also refused to invade Syria at the onset of its civil war, especially when the Syrian government allegedly used chemical warfare to defeat rebels.
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