President Obama lays out plan to defeat ISIS
COLUMBIA - Congress is now debating President Obama's plan to defeat the militant group the Islamic State, also previously known as ISIS or ISIL.
In his primetime address to the nation on Wednesday night, Obama said he intended to weaken and eventually destroy the Islamic group. He announced that the U.S. will take on a stronger military role as part of an international coalition to defeat IS.
His long-term plan would include expanding airstrikes against the fighters in Iraq and launching them in Syria, for the first time.
"I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are," 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."
The U.S. has already conducted more than 150 successful airstrikes in Iraq. The president said he also plans to train the Iraqi forces, including the Kurdish soldiers, and will send 475 more American military advisers to Iraq. But otherwise, he insisted that there will be no U.S. troops fighting on the ground.
According to Reuters. Obama also requested Congress to approve $500 million in funding to arm and train moderate rebel groups in Syria.
Just hours after the president's announcement, Syria and its close allies, Russia and Iran, warned Obama that airstrikes against ISIS within Syria would violate international law.
But ten key Arab allies promised to help the U.S. fight the militants, following meetings with the Secretary of State Kerry across the Middle East.
That brings the number up to 40 nations, including European allies, that have agreed to offer some extent of support in the fight against the IS militants.
The Islamic State has taken over large swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq in recent months, declaring the land a "caliphate".
In recent weeks, more Americans came to believe that the U.S. needs to take stronger military action against the militants, after the Islamic group recently beheaded two American journalists.
The CIA reported this week there are between 20,000 and 31,500 fighters available to ISIS in Syria and Iraq. This is more than three times the previous estimate. A spokesman for the CIA said the number has increased due to stronger recruitment since June following battlefield successes and the declaration of a caliphate.