NEW YORK -- Addressing the nation late on Wednesday evening, President Obama detailed the US strategy for "degrading and defeating" the threat of the Islamic State, formerly ISIS (ISIL), which includes the authorisation of air strikes against the terrorist group within Syria.
"We will conduct a systematic campaign of airstrikes against these terrorists," he said. "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. 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. This is a core principle of my presidency: if you threaten America, you will find no safe haven."
The president, who had been roundly criticised in recent weeks for his lack of strategy to combat the growing jihadist threat across Iraq and Syria, said that an addition 475 service personnel would be sent to Iraq to assist local forces, but reassured the American people that US troops would not be returning to ground combat, following the disastrous conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Speaking from the White House on the eve of the 9/11 anniversary, Obama said: "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."
Without over-hyping the threat of the Islamic State – "We have not seen any immediate intelligence about threats to the homeland from ISIL," he said – Obama made the point that if the militant forces were left "unchecked" they could eventually threaten Europe and the US.
"So tonight, with a new Iraqi government in place, and following consultations with allies abroad and Congress at home, I can announce that America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat," he said. "Our objective is clear: we will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy."
To read the full text of Obama's address to the nation, go here.