In a campaign against the Islamic State militant group, U.S. President Obama told Americans he had authorized U.S. airstrikes for the first time in Syria and more attacks in Iraq. Jillian Kitchener reports.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA SAYING: "Our objective is clear: we will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy." This, after Islamic State militants beheaded two American journalists, sending a grave message to the United States to stop air strikes in Iraq. But President Barack Obama said he will not waver under threats: (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA SAYING: "First, we will conduct a systematic campaign of airstrikes against these terrorists. Working with the Iraqi government, we will expand our efforts beyond protecting our own people and humanitarian missions, so that we're hitting ISIL targets as Iraqi forces go on offense. Moreover, I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are. That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq." The President told Americans he's authorized U.S. airstrikes for the first time in Syria. And says he'll increase support to ground forces fighting these militants. (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA SAYING: "In June, I deployed several hundred American service members to Iraq to assess how we can best support Iraqi Security Forces... We will send an additional 475 service members to Iraq. As I have said before, these American forces will not have a combat mission - we will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq." It's a shift for Obama, who has been reluctant to increase the U.S. military footprint in the region. And who, three years ago, pulled out the last combat troops from Iraq. (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA SAYING: "Now, it will take time to eradicate a cancer like ISIL." But with more than 150 U.S. air strikes in Iraq in the past month, Iraqi and Kurdish forces have halted the Islamic State advance. An advance that threatens the lives of Iraqi and Syrian civilians, especially ethnic minorities.