Obama says Congress vote shows U.S. unity in fight against Islamic State
President Barack Obama said on Thursday that strong bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress for the training and arming of moderate Syrian rebels showed Americans were united in the fight against Islamic State militants.
Obama spoke at the White House shortly after the Senate voted 78-22 to approve his plan to help the rebels battle the Sunni militant group that has seized areas of Iraq and Syria. The House of Representatives gave its approval on Wednesday.
“The strong bipartisan support in Congress for this new training effort shows the world that Americans are united in confronting the threat from ISIL, which has slaughtered so many innocent civilians,” Obama said, using an acronym for the militant group.
He said the program approved by Congress would help strengthen the Syrian rebels to take on Islamic State inside Syria.
That was in keeping, he said, with the administration’s strategy that U.S. forces deployed to Iraq would not have a combat mission.
“As I told our troops yesterday, we can join with allies and partners to destroy ISIL without American troops fighting another ground war in the Middle East,” he said.
Obama added that more than 40 countries, including Arab nations, had offered assistance as part of the coalition against Islamic State. He noted that France would join in air strikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq.
(Reporting by Sandra Maler; Editing by Peter Cooney and Lisa Shumaker)