Obama Builds Coalition of Arab Nations for Syrian Strikes

President Barack Obama speaks about the participation of five Arab nations in airstrikes against militants in Syria., Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014, on the South Lawn the White House, in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Barack Obama speaks about the participation of five Arab nations in airstrikes against militants in Syria., Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014, on the South Lawn the White House, in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

President Barack Obama on Tuesday morning called the U.S.-led attacks against terrorist targets in Syria a sign that Arab nations in the Middle East and Congress at home are committed to destroying the Islamic State, the terrorist group that occupies large swathes of land in Iraq and Syria.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Eremites, Jordan, Bahrain and Qatar all joined the U.S. in the attacks against the Islamic State that included a strike package of stealth fighters, bombers, drones and Tomahawk missiles, Obama said.

"America is proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with these nations as part of our common security," the President said in brief remarks from the South Lawn of the White House, just before departing for New York City. "The strength of the coalition makes clear that it is not America's fight alone."

In addition to hitting Islamic State targets, Obama said the coalition operation in Syria was meant to disrupt a plot "against the United States and our allies by seasoned al-Qaeda operatives [there] known as the Khorosan Group."

"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," he said.

Obama also said he was pleased that Congress has offered bipartisan support for the airstrikes. However, some lawmakers to include some in his own party, among them Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, say the actions being taken by the U.S. should have been put to a vote.

But some Republican members of Congress typically more critical of the administration are backing the attacks, with House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon calling the coalition strikes "one step in what will be a long fight against ISIL

"With strong coalition partners, a capable military, and a clear mission; it is a fight we can win," he said in a statement.

Obama also said that some 40 counties have agreed to help degrade and destroy the Islamic State by helping to cut off the flow of funds and foreign fighters to its cause.

No NATO allies took part in the Syrian strikes, and with the exception of France none have assisted in the attacks on IS forces in Iraq. French Rafale fighters hit a logistics warehouse in Iraq last week, but French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said his country would not take part in action against Syrian targets.

In addition to crushing Islamic State and other anti-U.S. terrorist groups in Syria, the U.S. is also backing Syrian fighters in their opposition to the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

The success of the U.S. mission in Iraq relies to a great extent on the discipline and loyalty of the fighters the U.S. will help fund and train at bases in Saudi Arabia. Obama said the Syrian fighters have been vetted and are reliable allies against both Islamic State and Assad.

At the United Nations in New York City, Obama plans to meet with representatives of the collation, including Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and others.

-- Bryant Jordan can be reached at bryant.jordan@monster.com

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