U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry looks out over Baghdad from a helicopter on Wednesday during his visit.

U.S. plans to degrade and destroy the jihadist forces

U.S. President Barack Obama was poised to announce his support to both opposition groups in Syria as well as the newly formed Iraqi government in their fight against Islamic State, the militant group that captured large parts of Iraq and Syria in recent months and declared a caliphate.

Previewing a key speech by the President on Wednesday night on the broad anti-IS strategy of the administration, a White House official said, “Tonight you will hear from the President how the U.S. will pursue a comprehensive strategy to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL, including U.S. military action and support for the forces combating ISIL on the ground – both the opposition in Syria and a new, inclusive Iraqi government.”

The official added that Mr. Obama would outline plans to build a coalition of allies and partners in the region and in the broader international community to support U.S. efforts, and will also touch upon how he would coordinate with the U.S. Congress as a partner in these efforts.

Even as Secretary of State John Kerry landed in Iraq for consultations with the government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, Mr. Obama informed Congressional leaders on Tuesday that he did not require any additional authority to be approved from them to take military action against the IS, which faced worldwide condemnation for releasing videos online of a militant beheading two American journalists in recent weeks.

Mr. Kerry’s mission to Iraq this week appeared to be two-fold, to offer confidence and support in their fight against IS, and to press Mr. Abadi to institute an inclusive government.

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Speaking in Baghdad at a joint press conference earlier on Wednesday, he told Mr. Abadi, “Your comments today… [on] the steps that you are prepared to take not only with respect to ISIL… but also your commitment to the broad reforms that are necessary in Iraq to bring every segment of Iraqi society to the table… is really important from the international community’s point of view.”

Although rumours have been circulating for a while now about the prospects of the U.S. expanding air strikes into Syria and also cooperating further with Syrian opposition forces, no concrete policies have been outlined by the White House on either issue thus far.

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