President Barack Obama said Sunday it’s time for the U.S. to “start going on some offence” against the group calling itself the Islamic State (also ISIS or ISIL), saying he would make an address to the nation Wednesday about his “game plan” going forward.
“On Wednesday, I’ll make a speech and describe what our game plan’s going to be going forward,” Obama said Sunday during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“I’m preparing the country to make sure that we deal with a threat from ISIL.”
Continuing his amped-up rhetoric of the past few days, Obama said the goal of his strategy would not simply be to “blunt the momentum” of the terror group. Last week, he earned criticism after contradicting himself and saying, at one point, the goal was to roll back the terror group to a “manageable point.”
On Sunday, like he did on Friday, made the objective plainly clear.
“We are going to systematically degrade their capabilities. We’re going to shrink the territory that they control. And ultimately we’re going to defeat them,” Obama said.
Obama previewed his strategy as similar to the U.S. military’s counterterrorism campaigns since he’s been in office. He said there would be important economic, political, and military components to destroying the terror group.
Obama is set to meet with congressional leaders on Tuesday to outline his strategy. Obama hinted, however, that he doesn’t think he needs congressional authorization to go after the group on a sustained basis.
Obama said his strategy would likely include an expansion of airstrikes targeting the group in Syria.
“The strategy both for Iraq and for Syria is that we will hunt down ISIL members and assets wherever they are,” he said.
Obama’s comments came as the U.S. launched a new series of airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq on Saturday. The group had been threatening take control of the Haditha Dam, a large dam that provides electricity for a good portion of the country.
The U.S. military’s Central Command said it had conducted four airstrikes in support of Iraqi and Kurdish forces near the Haditha Dam on Saturday. The strikes destroyed five ISIS Humvees, one armed vehicle, and one checkpoint.
The U.S. has conducted a total of 138 airstrikes across Iraq since Aug. 8. The vast majority of them have been in support of forces near the Mosul Dam, another key strategic point where ISIS had briefly taken control.
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