I just addressed the nation about what the
United States will do with our friends and allies to degrade and destroy
the terrorist group known as ISIL.
Let’s be clear: While this group may call
itself the "Islamic State," it is not "Islamic." No
religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL's
victims have been Muslim. Nor is it a "state." It is not
recognized by any government, nor by the people it subjugates.
This is nothing but a terrorist
organization with no vision or goal other than to slaughter all who stand
in its way. While we have not yet detected specific plotting against our
homeland, these terrorists have threatened America and our allies. And the
United States will meet this threat with strength and resolve.
Already, our military has conducted more
than 150 successful airstrikes over the past month against ISIL targets in
Iraq -- strikes that have protected American personnel and facilities,
killed hundreds of ISIL fighters, and helped save the lives of thousands of
innocent men, women, and children.
Going forward, our objective is clear: We
will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and
sustained counterterrorism strategy.
Here is what that strategy looks like.
First, we will conduct a
systematic campaign of airstrikes against these terrorists.
Working alongside the Iraqi government, we'll expand our efforts beyond
protecting our own people to hit ISIL targets as Iraqi forces go on
offense. And we will continue to hunt down terrorists who threaten our
country, whether in Iraq or Syria. They will learn what leaders of other
terrorist organizations have already learned: If you threaten America, you
will find no safe haven.
Second, we will increase our
support to the forces fighting these terrorists on the ground. We
will send an additional 475 service members to Iraq to support Iraqi and
Kurdish security forces. These American forces will not have a combat
mission. But they are needed to support Iraqi and Kurdish forces with
training, intelligence, and equipment -- and tonight, I again called on
Congress to give our military the additional authorities and resources it
needs to train and equip the Syrian opposition fighters.
Third, working with our
partners, we will continue to draw on our substantial counterterrorism
capabilities to prevent ISIL attacks.
Working with our partners, we will redouble our efforts to cut off its
funding, counter its warped ideology, improve our intelligence, strengthen
our defenses, and stem the flow of foreign fighters into and out of the
And fourth, we will continue
to provide humanitarian assistance to the innocent civilians displaced by
this terrorism organization. This includes Sunni and Shia
Muslims who have borne the brunt of this terror, as well as tens of
thousands of Christians and other religious minorities.
I have the authority to address the threat
from ISIL. But I believe we are strongest as a nation when the President and
Congress work together. So I welcome congressional action to support this
effort in order to show the world that Americans are united in confronting
This mission will not be like
the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will not involve
American combat troops fighting on foreign soil. This effort will be a
steady and relentless approach to take out terrorists who threaten us,
while supporting our partners on the front lines.
This is American leadership at its best:
We stand with people who fight for their own freedom. And we rally other
nations on behalf of our common security and common humanity.
When American forces helped prevent the
massacre of civilians trapped on Mt. Sinjar, here is 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.”
That is what the United States of America
does. That is the difference we make in the world. And moving forward, our
own safety and security depends upon our willingness to do what it takes to
defend this nation, and uphold the values that we stand for.