Washington: US President Barack Obama today vowed to "degrade and ultimately destroy" the Islamic State, as he announced a major expansion of the military campaign, including American airstrikes in Syria and the deployment of
475 more military advisers to Iraq, to achieve this goal.
"We will degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy," Obama said in his nationally televised speech in which he set no timeline to achieve his goal to defeat the terrorist group.
"America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat," he said, noting that the US will conduct a systematic campaign of airstrikes against these terrorists.
More than three dozen countries, in various capacities, have joined the US-led international coalition against the
Islamic State or ISIL, the terrorist outfit that has gained control over a large part of Iraq and Syria, which is equal in
size as that of Britain and poses a threat to the region.
"Working with the Iraqi government, we will expand our efforts beyond protecting our own people and humanitarian missions so that we're hitting ISIL targets as Iraqi forces go on offense," the president said in his 15-minute speech. "I've made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country wherever they are," the President 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," he asserted.
Obama said the US will also increase its support to forces fighting these terrorists on the ground and announced his decision to send 475 more military advisers to Iraq. These additional military advisers will be deployed to Iraq to conduct the following missions: advise and assist the Iraqi Security Forces, conduct intelligence, surveillance and
reconnaissance flights to increase US capacity to target ISIL, and coordinate the activities of the US military across Iraq, the Pentagon said in a statement.
Once all forces have arrived, the US military will have approximately 1,600 personnel in Iraq. "Working with our partners, we will redouble our efforts to cut off its funding, improve our intelligence, strengthen our defenses, counter its warped ideology and stem the flow of foreign fighters into and out of the Middle East," he said.
"I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil," he said, as he sought to assuage the concerns of people who are wary of a repeat of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.