WATCH: Obama 'Will Not Hesitate' to 'Degrade & Destroy' ISIS in Iraq & Syria
President Barack Obama tonight announced that he “will not hesitate” to take action against ISIS – also known as ISIL – in Syria and Iraq.
“This is a core principle of my presidency,” he said. “If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”
Obama said that ISIS – which calls itself the Islamic State – is not “Islamic,” nor is it a “state.”
“No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL's victims have been Muslim […] It is recognized by no government, nor the people it subjugates,” he said, calling it “a terrorist organization, pure and simple.”
Obama said he will send another 475 U.S. personnel and service members to Iraq, which “are needed to support Iraqi and Kurdish forces with training, intelligence and equipment.” However, he said the U.S. will not send combat troops. The president then called on Congress to authorize the U.S. to train and equip the Syrian opposition.
“In a region that has known so much bloodshed, these terrorists are unique in their brutality. They execute captured prisoners. They kill children. They enslave, rape, and force women into marriage. They threatened a religious minority with genocide. In acts of barbarism, they took the lives of two American journalists - Jim Foley and Steven Sotloff,” he said.
Obama noted that the terror group poses a threat to the Middle East and, if left unchecked, could pose a threat to the U.S. He reiterated that the U.S. objective is to “degrade, and ultimately destroy” the terror group.
The president said “it will take time to eradicate a cancer like ISIL,” but he explained that efforts will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“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. 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. And it is consistent with the approach I outlined earlier this year: to use force against anyone who threatens America's core interests, but to mobilize partners wherever possible to address broader challenges to international order.”
America, Obama said, stands for freedom, justice and dignity around the world, and he asked for the support of the American people in this mission.
“When we helped prevent the massacre of civilians trapped on a distant mountain, here's what one of them said: ‘We owe our American friends our lives. Our children will always remember that there was someone who felt our struggle and made a long journey to protect innocent people.’”
Watch the full address above.
More on ISIS strategy below from Fox News: