Obama asks for war powers to fight ISIS

The request bars the use of ‘enduring offensive ground forces’ against ISIS

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U.S. President Barack Obama has sent Congress a request for authorization to use military force in the campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) that would bar the use of “enduring offensive ground forces” and limit operations to three years, the text of the document said.

In a separate letter sent to Congress, Obama said: “My Administration's draft AUMF would not authorize long-term, large-scale ground combat operations like those our Nation conducted in Iraq and Afghanistan. Local forces, rather than U.S. military forces, should be deployed to conduct such operations.”

The authorization for the use of military force (AUMF), Obama said, “would provide the flexibility to conduct ground combat operations in other, more limited circumstances such as rescue operations involving U.S. or coalition personnel or the use of special operations forces to take military action against ISIL leadership.”

He said this would also allow the use of U.S. forces in “intelligence collection and sharing, missions to enable kinetic strikes, or the provision of operational planning and other forms of advice and assistance to partner forces.”

The request signals a ramping up of pressure on ISIS-- which now controls swaths of Syria and Iraq -- as the Iraqi government prepares for a major ground offensive, expected within months.

Obama will also have to report to Congress every six months, but there is no geographical limit on the scope of military actions.

The White House said Obama believed Congress authorizing military force would send a powerful signal on U.S. government unity against ISIS, according to Reuters.

In a televized speech, Obama said the U.S,-led coalition battling Islamic State extremists in Iraq and Syria was "on the offensive" and would prevail.

His comments came after asking Congress to back the war effort.

Obama also said that the United States "should not get dragged back into another prolonged ground war in the Middle East," but noted that he would be ready to deploy special forces in specific situations.

Since the mid-2014 the U.S. military has been involved in airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

Republican Senator Bob Corker, who chairs the Senate foreign relations committee, said he would "quickly begin to hold rigorous hearings" on the authorization, which he supports.

While praising the AUMF request as an "important step forward," John Boehner, the Republican speaker of the house, said Obama will have to "make his case" to the American people.

Boehner added that the military authorization request would likely be changed in Congress.

[With AFP, Reuters]

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