President Barack Obama will use his prime-time address Wednesday to warn the nation that Islamic militants pose a threat to U.S. national security and that the American people should expect the fight against the terror group will require a longstanding commitment, according to the White House.
“If [ISIS] were to establish a safe haven in Syria, there certainly is a risk that their attention could turn toward the West. And that would indeed be a very dangerous situation,” White House press secretary Josh Ernst told reporters Tuesday.
Obama is addressing the nation in prime time because he “believes this is a high national security priority,” Ernst said. Though there are currently no known specific terrorist threats against the United States, administration officials say that could change if ISIS is allowed to establish a home base in Syria.
The Obama administration has repeatedly said no troops will be put on the ground to take on the extremists who have taken hold of parts of Iraq and Syria, and no specific combat mission will be announced in Obama’s address on the Senate floor. Ernst would not comment on whether or not the president could announced air strikes against ISIS could be expanded into Syria.
But do not expect too many specifics from Obama. Ernst said the president will not announce a price tag for combating ISIS or any timeline for how long the fight could last.
Instead, the president will lay out the importance of building an international coalition to combat ISIS, supporting Iraq’s battle with the militants, and expanding support to Syrian opposition, according to Ernst.
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-- Andrew Rafferty