President Barack Obama has outlined his new strategy for combatting ISIS in the Middle East, authorising a major military campaign including airstrikes in Syria and the deployment of an additional 475 advisors to Iraq.
In the 15 minute speech from the White House, Obama said, “Our objective is clear: we will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy.” The US strategy will be supported European and Arab nations, “America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat,” he said.
The president insisted that this military campaign will be different to the 2003 invasion of Iraq and said the additional advisors being sent will not operate in a combat role, “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.
So far US air strikes have been focussed on Iraq but President Obama said the US will expand operations to targets in Syria, “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.”
The US has already launched over 150 air strikes against militants in Iraq and provided arms to Iraqi and Kurdish forces. The US will now increase support for allied ground forces fighting IS but ruled out support for President Assad in Syria. There will also be continued humanitarian assistance to civilians.
IS is a Sunni jihadist group which currently controls large parts of Syria and Iraq and aspires to bring most of the Muslim-inhabited regions of the world under its control beginning with Iraq and Syria. In August 2014 the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that the number of fighters in the group had increased to 50,000 in Syria and 30,000 in Iraq. The United Nations and Amnesty International have accused the group of grave human rights abuses.