Obama authorises military strikes against ISIS leadership
The US President Barack Obama has authorised the Pentagon to target and kill leaders of the Islamic State militant group, with the organisation’s head Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi being at the top of the administration’s list.
Obama had approved the strikes against individual targets for the first time. The authorisation was first reported by the Washington Post. Obama had previously not permitted the military to target individuals from the terrorist organisation, also known as ISIS or ISIL, even if intelligence showed where they were located.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said in a press briefing that the President is “actively engaged” in selecting possible Islamic State targets that are available. “The President has gotten guidance about targets that are available and would be critical to denying ISIL a safe haven both in Iraq and in Syria,” Earnest said.
Earnest added that the administration has identified the targets through ramped up “intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets” in the region.
Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said that destroying a group like the Islamic State requires an “aggressive” approach, which includes “disrupting their ability to command and control and to lead their own forces.”
Obama announced that he is sharply escalating the US military campaign against militants, authorising US airstrikes in Syria along with expanded airstrikes in Iraq.