Washington, DC – Tonight President Barack Obama laid out a strategy for combatting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) during a live address to the nation. U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) released the statement below regarding the President’s plan:
“After a decade of war, I share the concerns of many Rhode Islanders about further military engagement, but I also share their alarm over the rising influence of ISIL and their horror over the brutal tactics used by these extremists. I will continue to oppose the deployment of regular ground troops, but we must take seriously ISIL’s ruthless beheading of Americans, its threat to U.S. personnel and facilities in the region, and its ability to capture territory and resources to conduct terrorist attacks. I believe the plan outlined by the President tonight – to build a coalition of regional partners and work with the newly formed Iraqi government to drive ISIL out of that country – is the right approach. I also support expanding our efforts to provide military advice and airstrikes, and arming moderate rebels in Syria – a step I first called for after visiting the region early last year. Syria and ISIL present a complex set of problems to which there are no easy answers, but I believe President Obama is pursuing the best set of options available to us at this time.”
Whitehouse visited the region in January 2013. He met with members of the Syrian opposition and Syrian refugees along the Jordanian border who had fled from the atrocities perpetrated by Assad’s regime. Upon returning, Whitehouse told WPRI.com that, “Syria’s coming apart, and risks becoming a real power vacuum into which extremist and jihadi sentiment will pour if we don’t take action.” He urged the Obama Administration at that time to provide small arms to the moderate opposition in Syria and to address the massive humanitarian crisis resulting from the conflict there.