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Posted at 10:12 a.m. on Sept. 3, 2014
President Barack Obama walked back his own remarks about a lack of a strategy to take on ISIS in Syria Wednesday — vowing to rally a regional coalition to take on the Islamic State group and mentioning the possibility of seeking congressional authorization.
A day after ISIS released a video showing the murder of American journalist Steven Sotloff, and as a Democratic senator has proposed legislation authorizing strikes in Syria, Obama said his strategy to fight ISIS in Iraq is working, with airstrikes rolling back ISIS’ gains while Iraqis make progress forming an inclusive central government.
At a news conference on his trip to Estonia, Obama said it’s going to take time to take on the group, also known as ISIL, and build a regional coalition.
“Our objective is clear, and that is to degrade and destroy ISIL so that it’s no longer a threat not just to Iraq but also the region and to the United States,” he said.
Obama said that in his comment last week about not having a strategy yet, “I was specifically referring to the possibility of the military strategy inside of Syria that might require congressional approval.”
“It is very important from my perspective that when we send our pilots in to do a job, that we know that this is a mission that’s going to work, that we’re very clear on what our objectives are, what our targets are; we’ve made the case to Congress and we’ve made the case to the American people; and we’ve got allies behind us so that it’s not just a one-off, but it’s something that over time is going to be effective,” he said.
“It’s not only that we’re going to be bringing to justice those who perpetrated this terrible crime against these two fine young men. More broadly, the United States will continue to lead a regional and international effort against the kind of barbaric and ultimately empty vision that ISIL represents. And that’s going to take some time, but we’re going to get it done. I’m very confident of it.”