As outrage built over the beheading of the second American journalist by the ISIS, US president Barack Obama vowed on Wednesday to bring the killers to justice.
“We will not be intimidated,” said the president at a news briefing in Tallinn, Estonia. He added that “those who make the mistake of harming Americans will learn that we will not forget, and that our reach is long and that justice will be served.”
"The bottom line is this, our objective is clear and that is to degrade and destroy (Islamic State) so that it's no longer a threat not just to Iraq but also the region and to the United States," Obama told a news conference.
"Whatever these murderers think they will achieve with killing innocent Americans like Steven, they have already failed," Obama said. "They failed because, like people around the world, Americans are repulsed by their barbarism. We will not be intimidated."
The video of the beheading of American journalist Steven Sotloff surfaced just hours before Obama left the US for the Baltic states, on his way to Wales for a Nato summit.
President Obama is under pressure to act against the ISIS, especially in Syria where its leaders and fighters take shelter to escape pressure and military reverses in Iraq.
The president faced widespread criticism last week for saying the United States had no strategy to fight the ISIS. Even his own party leader have said he has been “too cautious”.
The president sought to answer those charges at the briefing saying there has always been a strategy in place to fight the ISIS, and it was “moving effectively”.
“And last week when this question was asked, I was specifically referring to the possibility of the military strategy inside of Syria that might require congressional approval.”
The first part of the strategy was to secure US diplomatic facilities and personnel in Iraq, which is ongoing with 350 additional troops deployed there on Tuesday.
The second part was to establish and secure a functioning and inclusive Iraqi government “that could serve as the basis for Iraq to begin to go on the offensive”.
US forces have carried out over 100 such airstrikes to that end, and continue to attack ISIS positions, freeing Mosul Dam and ending their siege of Amirli last Sunday.
The objective, he emphasized was to “degrade and destroy” the ISIS, seeking to clarify his position, which has seemed to be at odds with senior members of his administration.
The president has seemed reluctant pursue ISIS into Syria while his officials have been forceful and categorical that there was no other way of dealing with the outfit.
(With inputs from Reuters)