President Barack Obama announced during his primetime address Wednesday night that the United States’ objective is to “destroy” the Islamic State terror group, while simultaneously cautioning that American combat troops will not be deployed in the effort.
“[I] want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” the president said. “It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil.”
“This counter-terrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground,” the president continued.[sharequote align=”right”]”Our objective is clear: we will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL…”[/sharequote]
Obama, however, proclaimed that the U.S. will “lead a broad collation to roll back the terrorist threat” in conjunction with Iraq’s new government.
“Our objective is clear: we will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy,” Obama announced.
Obama added that he will not hesitate to go on the offensive in Syria, warning militants that they will “find no safe haven.”
“Moreover, 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,” he said. “This is a core principle of my presidency: if you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”
Obama, however, did not provide a specific timeline regarding how long it would take to “eradicate a cancer” like the Islamic State. While acknowledging there are “risks involved,” the president only pointed to campaigns waged in Yemen and Somalia for a hint.
“This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years,” he said.
In his speech, the president also disputed two things about the terror group.
“Now let’s make two things clear: ISIL is not ‘Islamic,'” he 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,” Obama continued. “It was formerly al Qaeda’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.”
Obama ended his address saying that while the U.S. faces challenges, “America is better positioned today to seize the future than any other nation on Earth.”
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) reacted, saying a “speech is not the same thing as a strategy.”
“While the president presented a compelling case for action, many questions remain about the way in which the president intends to act,” Boehner said in a statement.
On Wednesday, the president authorized $25 million in aid to Iraq to combat the growing threat from the terror group.
This story had been updated.
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