U.S. President Barack Obama says the U.S. will be joined by a ''broad coalition'' of partners in confronting Islamic State. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION President Barack Obama told Americans on Wednesday he had authorized U.S. airstrikes for the first time in Syria and more attacks in Iraq in a broad escalation of a campaign against the Islamic State militant group. Obama's decision to launch attacks inside Syria, which is embroiled in a three-year civil war, showed the seriousness of the threat American officials see from Islamic State. A year ago, the president shied away from airstrikes against Syria's government for its use of chemical weapons against Syrians. Obama laid out his emerging plan for tackling the group in a widely anticipated White House speech, two weeks after coming under fire for saying: "We don't have a strategy yet" for the group in Syria and six months after declaring that groups like Islamic State were minor players. He said he would expand the list of targets inside Iraq beyond several isolated areas. He will send 475 more American advisers to help Iraqi forces, joining more than 1,000 already there. They will not engage in combat. Before the focus on Islamic State, Obama for months had been cool to the notion of arming the poorly organized Syrian rebels, fearing weapons provided them could end up in the wrong hands. But he now needs the rebels to become strong enough to hold ground cleared by U.S. airstrikes, just as Iraqi forces are doing in Iraq. Islamic State has carved out what it calls a "caliphate" from broad areas in Iraq and Syria and uses savage methods that have included the beheading of many prisoners, including two Americans. "This counter-terrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground," Obama said.