Obama: Coalition Action Includes Five Syrian Neighbors

Monday’s military action against ISIS targets in Syria represents a coalition effort of at least five Syrian neighbors acting in concert with the United States, and enjoys bipartisan support from Congress, said President Obama on Tuesday morning. Speaking briefly from the White House’s south lawn, Obama also suggested the strikes would not be a one-off action, but rather the beginning of a campaign. Joining the United States, he said, were forces of “friends and partners” including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Bahrain, and Qatar. The action shows these countries stand “shoulder to shoulder” in undertaking combat for “our common security.” Obama also said “more than 40 nations have offered to help” in the battle against the ISIS terror group. “The strength of this coalition makes it clear that this is not America’s fight alone,” said Obama, adding that “all the governments of the Middle East” reject ISIS. The action is part of a multi-pronged effort to fulfill the following objectives, he said: “To take out terrorist targets; to train and equip Syrian and opposition fighters who are going up against [ISIS] on the ground; to cut off [ISIS’s] financing; to counter its hateful ideology, and to stop the flow of fighters into and out of the region.” The strikes in Syria also hit at a branch of “seasoned al Qaeda operatives” known as the Khorasan group, in order to “disrupt” its plotting against the United States, he said. “We will not tolerate safe havens for terrorists who threaten our people,” maintained Obama. The bipartisan congressional support for the strikes “sends a powerful message to the world that we will do what’s necessary to defend our country,” he added, cautioning that “the overall effort will take time.” He said he will speak with Iraq’s prime minister and with “friends and allies at the United Nations” in the coming days “to build support for the coalition.” Obama praised the “courage and professionalism of the pilots” who carried out the strikes.