WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., will be introducing legislation to give President Barack Obama authority to order U.S. military airstrikes in Syria to take out Islamic State of Iraq and Syria militants.
Nelson’s statement came following the release of a video Tuesday showing an ISIS militant beheading American journalist Steven Sotloff. The terror group released a video two weeks ago showing the beheading of another U.S. journalist James Foley.
“This will ensure there’s no question that the president has the legal authority he needs to use airstrikes in Syria,” Nelson said. “Let there be no doubt, we must go after ISIS right away because the U.S. is the only one that can put together a coalition to stop this group that’s intent on barbaric cruelty.”
Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., blamed the White House for contributing to the circumstances that led to the rise of ISIS.
“I do think a good deal of this rise stems from bad decisions made by the administration in foreign policy with respect to Syria and Iraq,” Ryan said during a Milwaukee luncheon Tuesday. Those decisions created a vacuum which is now being filled by ISIS.”
During a press conference in Estonia on Wednesday, Obama said that the U.S. will not be intimated by ISIS and that a coalition will be built to “degrade and destroy” the terror group.
“We will not be intimidated. Their horrific acts only unite us as a country and stiffen our resolve to take the fight against these terrorists,” Obama said. “And those who make the mistake of harming Americans will learn that we will not forget, and that our reach is long and that justice will be served.”
Obama also sought to clean up the damage from his statement last week that “we don’t have a strategy yet” for dealing with the Islamic State group in Syria. Republicans quickly seized on the remark to argue the president lacks a coherent approach to fighting the extremist group.
“It is very important from my perspective that when we send our pilots in to do a job, that we know that this is a mission that’s going to work, that we’re very clear on what our objectives are, what our targets are,” Obama said. “We’ve made the case to Congress and we’ve made the case to the American people, and we’ve got allies behind us so that it’s not just a one-off, but it’s something that over time is going to be effective.”
In the Sotloff video, a masked militant warns Obama that as long as U.S. airstrikes against the militant group continue in Iraq, “our knife will continue to strike the necks of your people.”
“I’m back, Obama, and I’m back because of your arrogant foreign policy towards the Islamic State, because of your insistence on continuing your bombings … and on Mosul Dam, despite our serious warnings,” the executioner said. “You, Obama, have but to gain from your actions but another American citizen. So just as your missiles continue to strike out people, our knife will continue to strike the necks of your people.”
Obama responded that the airstrikes have been effective in blunting the militant threat and he will continue to battle the “barbaric and ultimately empty vision” that the Islamic State represents. He said he will be consulting with NATO allies at a summit in Wales Thursday and Friday on a strategy to combat the Islamic State and other militant networks that arise.
ISIS has taken over a third of Syria and Iraq. It has terrorized rivals and civilians alike with widely publicized brutality as it seeks to expand a proto-state it has carved out on both sides of the border.
In its rise to prominence over the past year, the extremist group has frequently published graphic photos and gruesome videos of everything from bombings and beheadings to mass killings.
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