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9/11 anniversary: Obama prepared to order airstrikes in Syria against ISIL

Speaking from the State Floor in the White House on September 10, 2014, The US President Barack Obama is prepared to order airstrikes on Syrian territory as part of an expanded counter-terrorism plan to confront the Islamic State jihadist group that is operating in both Syria and Iraq.

The decisions, outlined Wednesday in a prime-time address to the nation on the eve of the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
"I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan," Obama said. "It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil."
The president's counter-terrorism strategy also includes: more airstrikes in Iraq; the deployment of 475 more U.S. military troops to assist the Iraq military, bringing the total number of American advisers to some 1,600; help from other countries; and an emphasis on having local ground forces battle the insurgent group that is also known as ISIL or ISIS.
The president gave no timetable for the new, U.S.-led fight against what he described as "a terrorist organization" with members "unique in their brutality."
The US will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat.
"America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat," Mr. Obama said. "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."

Mr. Obama unveiled a counterterrorism strategy that he said is supported by dozens of "coalition" partners to "roll back this terrorist threat."

The president did not specify when and how the U.S. might strike at Islamic State targets in Syria. A senior administration official said "airstrikes in Syria will be conducted at a "time and place of our choosing."

According to a report from the New York Times, Pentagon officials believe the planned long-term intervention could last as long as three years, outlasting Mr Obama’s presidency. The US-led campaign is likely to face multiple military and political complications, such as how to defeat Isis without appearing to assist Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s side in his country’s vicious civil war.

In addition to launching airstrikes against the militants in Syria, Mr. Obama pledged a new dose of support for moderate Syrian fighters also battling the extremist group. Taken together, the steps draw the U.S. closer toward the volatile Syrian civil war and open a new front for American efforts in the region.

Saudi Arabia has offered to host a U.S.-run training facility for moderate Syrian rebels, U.S. and Arab officials said. The facility is expected to be able to handle as many as 10,000 fighters, but details are still being worked out, the officials said.

John McCain, a constant critic of Mr Obama's foreign policy, was not satisfied by the president's remarks:
His speech tonight got some key things right. He explained to the American people why we must confront Isil. He described the correct goal – to degrade and ultimately destroy Isil... However, the President’s plan will likely be insufficient to destroy ISIS, which is the world’s largest, richest terrorist army.
Dianne Feinstein, Democratic chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, praised the president's speech and called for her colleagues in Congress to get behind his Isil strategy:
I fully support President Obama’s decision to utilize his authority to begin a counterterrorism effort against the terrorist army Isil. I applaud him for recognizing the seriousness of the threat and for going on the offense against this threat. 
Now that a strategy has been outlined, it is critical that Congress and the American people come together in solidarity to support the president and our armed forces. On such an important matter of national security, we must show Isil we have the political will, the military might and the strength of a united country.
John Boehner, the Republican leader in Congress, criticized Mr Obama for waiting until now to set out a strategy on Isil:
[Mr Obama] has finally begun to make the case the nation has needed him to make for quite some time: that destroying this terrorist threat requires decisive action and must be the highest priority for the United States and other nations of the free world. 
A speech is not the same thing as a strategy, however. While the president presented a compelling case for action, many questions remain about the way in which the president intends to act.
Joe Kennedy, Democrat congressman and grandson of Bobby Kennedy, urged Mr Obama to consult Congress before proceeding with the mission:
In the days ahead, the American people deserve a thoughtful and thorough debate about the mission, timeline, cost and exit strategy associated with this plan. For that to happen, the President must come to Congress. We should not involve American equipment, treasure or troops in a long-term mission abroad without comprehensive deliberation about what that means for our country.
Newt Gingrich, the former Republican speaker of the House, praised the patriotic tone of the speech:
I think this was the most explicitly pro-American speech of his presidency.
Saxby Chambliss, the top Republican on the Senate intelligence committee, praised Mr Obama's speech:
Tonight, the president has announced the United States' willingness to lead a coalition to destroy Isil, and I support these efforts.
John Kerry, the US secretary of state, not surprisingly supported the White House:
Tonight the President spoke directly to our country about what it will take to lead the world to degrade and ultimately destroy Isil, and we are already well underway in the effort to assemble the coalition to get the job done. We are uniting the world against a unified threat, and the President's strategy will succeed because doing it with allies and partners isn't just smart, it's strong."
Chuck Hagel, the US secretary of defence, also backed the President:
President Obama laid out a strong, comprehensive strategy to degrade and ultimately destroy Isil, and the United States military is prepared to carry out its responsibilities in this counter-terrorism campaign. The men and women of the US Armed Forces are ready to carry out the orders of our Commander-in-Chief, to work with our partners across government, and to work with our friends and allies around the world to accomplish this mission.
Source: The Telegraph | USA Today