President Barack Obama has authorized air strikes against ISIL targets inside Syria for the first time, promising to destroy its fighters “wherever they exist”.
In an address to the nation on Wednesday, Obama also announced an expansion of strikes in Iraq, saying he would be dispatching nearly 500 more US troops to the country to assist its besieged security forces.
Obama called on Congress to authorize a programme to train and arm rebels in Syria who are fighting both the Islamic State group and Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Saudi Arabia, a crucial US ally in the Middle East, offered to host the training missions, part of Obama’s effort to persuade other nations to join with the US in confronting the self-declared jihadist fighters.
Obama said, “This is not our fight alone…”American power can make a decisive difference, but we cannot do for Iraqis what they must do for themselves, nor can we take the place of Arab partners in securing their region.Our objective is clear: We will degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL (Islamic State) through a comprehensive and sustained air strikes strategy.”