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President Obama on Wednesday ordered a sharp escalation of the U.S. military campaign against the Islamic State, authorizing U.S. airstrikes in Syria along with expanded airstrikes in Iraq as he vowed to wipe out the group’s terrorists “wherever they exist.”
“Our objective is clear: we will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy,” Obama said during a prime-time address to the nation.
The president’s address, just 15 minutes long, effectively completed a dramatic turnaround from the administration’s approach to the Islamic State just a few months ago, when the president downplayed the group’s advances through northern Iraq. Now, he is outlining a “comprehensive” strategy for targeting the organization in Iraq and Syria, including by potentially aiding moderate factions of the Syrian opposition.