Seeking to downplay the image of America launching a new unilateral military mission, President Barack Obama said the first round of airstrikes in Syria against the Islamic State were done with a broad coalition of allies in the Middle East and asserted: “This is not America's fight alone.””
President Barack Obama speaks about the participation of five Arab nations in airstrikes against militants in Syria., Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014, on the South Lawn the White House, in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
“America acted as part of a broad coalition,” Obama said from the South Lawn of the White House Tuesday morning. “We were joined in this coalition by our friends and partners, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Bahrain. America is proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with these nations.”
Obama spoke for about three minutes and never used the phrase "war" in describing the airstrikes.
The U.S. had previously carried out airstrikes against the Islamic State only in Iraq, where the Iraqi government had sought help. Syrian President Bashar Assad has warned against strikes in his country. The goal is to prevent a safe haven for the Sunni militant group that operates in both countries.
“The people and the governments of the Middle East are rejecting ISIL and standing up for the peace and security that people of the region and the world deserve,” Obama said.
Obama called the Syrian opposition, which Congress voted last week to fund, the “best counterweight to ISIL and the Assad regime.”
Obama also pointed out that the U.S. and allies struck an Al Qaeda operative in Syria known as the Khorasan Group.
“Once again, it must be clear to anyone who would plot against America and try to do Americans harm, that we will not tolerate safe havens for terrorists who threaten our people,” Obama said.
Obama made the comments just before departing for a gathering of the United Nations in New York.