MOSCOW, September 8 (RIA Novosti) - US President Barack Obama is set to unveil a strategy for battling the Islamic State extremists waging war in Iraq and Syria during his address to the nation on Wednesday, the eve of the 13th anniversary of deadly 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The planned US-led campaign against the Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), may last for up to three years and require “a sustained effort“ that could extend beyond Obama’s presidency. The plans for the presidential address were revealed during Obama’s interview on NBC’s Meet the Press broadcast Sunday.
The battle against the jihadist group will consist of three phases. The first phase, an air campaign, is already underway, with the United States launching air strikes against IS positions in Iraq since August. The second phase will involve training and equipping Iraqi and Kurdish fighters, while the third phase is aimed at destroying the group’s sanctuaries in Syria.
The US strategy against the Islamic State has no previous equivalents. Unlike the US operations in Yemen and Pakistan, the fight against IS is not restricted to drone strikes, and unlike the war in Afghanistan, there will be no ground offensive. Neither will it be compressed into an intensive strategic air campaign, like the 1999 NATO bombing of the former Yugoslavia.
According to the Obama, the aim of the campaign is complete destruction of the group, which has seized large areas of Iraq and Syria, including major cities and oilfields.
While the United States has not received any “immediate intelligence about threats” from IS, the group poses danger to its "friends and partners in the region", Obama said in the interview with NBC. The president noted that foreign militants are currently fighting in Syria, including many European Union nationals who have visas and may travel to the United States unimpeded, thus causing “a serious threat to the homeland”.
The United States will not be alone in its fight against IS, as nine other countries, including the United Kingdom, Germany and Turkey, agreed to join a “core coalition” against the group during NATO’s summit in Wales last week.
IS is a Sunni jihadist group that has been fighting the Syrian government since 2012. In June 2014, the group extended its attacks to northern and western Iraq, declaring a caliphate on the territories under its control later that month.
The group is known for its brutal tactics, including public executions, and has caused tens of thousands of non-Muslims in the region to flee their homes. The United Nations has accused IS of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity.