Will Obama declare an all-out war against Jihadists on his prime time speech on the eve of 9/11 anniversary?
Will Obama declare an all-out war against Jihadists on his prime time speech on the eve of 9/11 anniversary?Reuters

US President Barack Obama expectedly authorised airstrikes against the Islamic State in Syria, in an address from the White House on Wednesday night, the eve of the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Obama outlined a political and military strategy for both Iraq and Syria, with a vision to "degrade and ultimately destroy" the Islamic State, days after he had brought together allies to fight the rising threat of terrorism in the Middle East.

He authorised aistrikes in Syria and also deployed 500 additional personnel to Iraq.

"We will conduct a systematic campaign of airstrikes against the terrorists. We will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country wherever they are, that means I will not hestitate to take action against IS in Syria and Iraq," Obama said.

The Islamic State has declared a Caliphate in several seized territories of Iraq and Syria, after it overran several towns from the beginning of its offensive in June.

Apart from airstrikes, Obama has also planned to help local rebels in the battle against IS.

In a similar manner in which the US armed the Kurdish forces in Iraq to take on the militants, he called on the Congress to authorize a programme to train and arm Syrian rebels who are fighting both the Islamic State militants as well as those fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The United States had first directly targeted the Islamic State last month when Obama authorized airstrikes in Iraq, and has conducted more than 150 airstrikes so far. This move by Obama led the militants to specifically target American citizens, and in a succession of two weeks over the last month, they executed two American journalists, James Foley and Steven Sotloff.

The brutal executions, however, have not stopped the US from continuing its attack on the militants, and the new military front in Syria will intensify the battle even further.

One of the bigger worries on Obama's mind during his address seemed to be about more Westerners, from Europe and the US, joining the militant outfit in the Middle East, which he said, poses a threat to the world at large.

"While we have not yet detected specific plotting against our homeland, ISIL leaders have threatened America and our allies. Our intelligence community believes that thousands of foreigners - including Europeans and some Americans - have joined them in Syria and Iraq. Trained and battle-hardened, these fighters could try to return to their home countries and carry out deadly attacks," he said.

Obama has come to face much criticism owing to the alleged volte-face in his political views, given that he had come to office vowing to return American troops from a decade-long war in Iraq.

In a bid to refresh his policy, Obama said categorically on Wednesday, "This is the core principle of my Presidency, if you threaten America, you will find no safe haven".

He evokes the sensitive 9/11 episode to further boost his position.

"We cannot erase every trace of evil from the world, and small groups of killers have the capacity to do great harm. That was the case before 9/11, and that remains true today. That's why we must remain vigilant as threats emerge," he said.

And almost as if to assure war-weary Americans that this war was not anything like the US follies in Iraq and Afghnaistan over the last decade, he said the US "will not be dragged into another ground war in Iraq".  

"I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil," he assured.

Whether the assurances work will be realized in the three years at the end of Obama's presidential term.