"I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists that 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 the core principle of my presidency," Obama said in his address to the nation Wednesday. "We will conduct a systematic campaign of airstrikes against these [IS] terrorists," he added.
The possibly of conducting airstrikes in Syria was the key point of Obama's speech. "I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq," Obama stated.
Obama sees the air strikes to be an effective counter-terrorism measure that could prevent the IS group from becoming a future threat to the United States, and therefore this measure does not need the approval of the Congress.
"Working with the Iraqi government we will expand our efforts beyond protecting our own people and humanitarian missions so that we are hitting ISIL targets as Iraqi forces go on offense," Obama added. In his statement Obama said that the United States will "support Iraqi and Kurdish forces with training, intelligence and equipment."
Obama also promised to send more US service members to Iraq in order to increase support to the forces, fighting IS on the ground.
President Obama, who was first elected in 2008 promising to end wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, admitted that Iraq needs more forces to control the situation in the country, and said the United States will send additional service members to Iraq.
"In June I deployed several hundreds of American service members to Iraq, to assess how we can best support Iraqi security forces. Now that those teams have completed their work and Iraqis formed a government we will send an additional 475 service members to Iraq," Obama said, adding that the United States "will not be dragged into another ground war in Iraq."
"ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple. And it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way," Obama said. He characterized the terrorist group as "a threat to the people of Iraq and Syria and the broader Middle East, including American citizens."
President Obama stated that the United States will "lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat."
Ahead of Obama's nationwide address, on the eve of the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived to Baghdad to hold urgent talks with the new Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar Abadi. They reportedly discussed the ways in which the United States can support the new Iraqi government in its effort to defeat the IS.
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), 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.