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Obama Says He Has Authorization For IS Campaign


Iraq -- Kurdish "peshmerga" troops stand guard during an intensive security deployment against Islamic State militants, on the outskirts of the province of Nineveh, August 6, 2014.

Iraq -- Kurdish "peshmerga" troops stand guard during an intensive security deployment against Islamic State militants, on the outskirts of the province of Nineveh, August 6, 2014.

U.S. President Barack Obama told congressional leaders on September 9 he has the authority needed to take action against Islamic State (IS) militants and will detail his plans in an upcoming speech.

Obama met with the legislators at the White House, telling them that he would welcome action from Congress that would "aid the overall effort and demonstrate to the world that the United States is united in defeating the threat," according to a White House statement.

Reports said Obama would ask Congress to quickly authorize the arming and training of more moderate Syrian opposition groups.

The president could also order broader U.S. air strikes against Islamic State militants in Iraq and expand those strikes to include IS targets in Syria, where the bulk of IS forces are located.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Republican-Kentucky) told reporters before the meeting that Obama needed to seek authorization.

"The president should be seeking congressional approval period, for whatever he decides to do because that’s the way you hear from those of us who represent the rest of the country," McConnell said.

The other three congressional leaders have not taken a stand on the issue.

Several senators from both parties have expressed support for a vote on the issue.

Obama is expected to deliver a speech to the nation on September 10 to outline his strategy for dealing with IS, just hours before commemorations for the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.

Obama's speech also comes ahead of a meeting in Saudi Arabia on September 11 with representatives of the United States, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Oman focused on how to fight and eliminate the IS.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry leads the U.S. delegation to those talks.

IS militants have carried out a brutal campaign in areas they have captured, offering non-Muslims the choices of converting, paying a special tax or face "the sword."

IS militants have executed many Shi'ite Muslims as well as non-Muslims, including two U.S. journalists.

Luke Johnson in Washington with additional reporting by AP and AFP
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