In a bipartisan vote, the House and Senate passed a Continuing Resolution that supports the U.S. military effort to train and equip moderate Syrian opposition forces so they can take the fight to the terrorist force ISIL.
At the White House tonight, President Obama delivered a statement to clearly outline these efforts and to thank Congress for standing united in our efforts to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL.
I believe that we’re strongest as a nation when the President and Congress work together. And I want to thank leaders in Congress for the speed and seriousness with which they approached this urgent issue -- in keeping with the bipartisanship that is the hallmark of American foreign policy at its best.
The new effort that Congress voted to support tonight is not a combat mission, it’s a strategy that centers on training and supporting opposition forces that will fight ISIL inside of Syria:
These Syrian opposition forces are fighting both the brutality of ISIL terrorists and the tyranny of the Assad regime. We had already ramped up our assistance -- including military assistance -- to the Syrian opposition. With this new effort, we’ll provide training and equipment to help them grow stronger and take on ISIL terrorists inside Syria. This program will be hosted outside of Syria, in partnership with Arab countries. And it will be matched by our increasing support for Iraqi government and Kurdish forces in Iraq.
This is in keeping with a key principle of our strategy -- the American forces that have been deployed to Iraq do not and will not have a combat mission; their mission is to advise and assist our partners on the ground. 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.
"The strong bipartisan support in Congress for this new training effort shows the world that Americans are united in confronting the threat from ISIL," the President said. Those who slaughter innocent civilians and attempt to intimidate America are "learning the same hard lesson of petty tyrants and terrorists who have gone before":
As Americans, we do not give in to fear. And when you harm our citizens, when you threaten the United States, when you threaten our allies -- it doesn’t divide us, it unites us. We pull together. We stand together. To defend this country that we love and to make sure justice is done. And to join with those who seek a better future of dignity and opportunity for all people.
Read the President's full statement here.