Politics & Government

Obama touts coalition of nations fighting Islamic State

President Barack Obama on Tuesday touted the coalition he had formed to fight the Islamic State before launching airstrikes in Syria.

“America's proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with these nations on behalf of our common security,” Obama said in brief remarks on the South Lawn. “The strength of this coalition makes it clear to the world that this is not America's fight alone. Above all, the people and governments of the Middle East are rejecting ISIL and standing up for the peace and security that the people of the region and the world deserve.”

That coalition of nations which includes Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Bahrain, and Qatar, on Tuesday launched a bombing campaign against Islamist positions inside Syria, marking the first Western air raids on that country since a rebellion erupted there in 2011.

The attacks used a mix of fighters, bombers and Tomahawk missiles, Pentagon spokesman Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said in a statement that was released late Monday in Washington, early Tuesday in Syria.

Syria said the United States advised it of the attacks through its ambassador to the United Nations before they took place.

“We will move forward with our plan...to ramp up our effort to train and equip the Syrian opposition,” Obama said. “The overall effort will take time. There will be challenges ahead.”

In addition, Obama spoke U.S. military action to disrupt “ the imminent attack” plotting against the U.S. conducted by a group of al Qaeda veterans - known as the Khorasan Group - in Syria.

“Once again, it must be clear to anyone who would plot against America and try to do Americans harm that we will not tolerate safe havens for terrorists who threaten our people,” Obama said.

The U.S. conducted eight airstrikes against Khorasan Group targets west of Aleppo, the largest city in Syria, including training camps, an explosives and munitions production facility, a communication building and command and control facilities.

Obama said he spoke to lawmakers and that he’s “pleased” with the bipartisan support for the actions that we're taking.

“America's always stronger when we stand united, and that unity sends a powerful message to the world that we will do what's necessary to defend our country,” he said.

Obama made the remarks before he and First Lady Michelle Obama travel in New York late this morning for two days of speeches and meetings centered around the United National General Assembly meeting.