Obama vows to destroy ISIS, hunt followers
UNITED States President Barack Obama, in a rare prime-time speech designed to reassure a jittery nation, vowed that America will destroy the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group and hunt down its followers at home or abroad.
But the speech - the third that Mr Obama delivered from the Oval Office since taking office - offered no new policy shifts to confront what he called a "new phase" in the terrorist threat after the mass shooting in California, reported Reuters.
Mr Obama used his 14-minute nationally televised appearance on Sunday to draw a careful line about what he would and would not do.
He promised an intensification of air strikes against ISIS and said that a growing coalition of nations and an increasingly sophisticated effort to capture and kill the group's leaders would yield significant results, The New York Times reported.
He also detailed a multi-pronged strategy against ISIS that will rely as much on community action, advanced technology and countering propaganda as on military force, reported Agence France-Presse.
This includes tougher screening of travellers who come to the US without visas and banning gun sales to people on the government's no-fly list.
But the President insisted: "We should not be drawn once more into a long and costly ground war in Iraq or Syria."
Mr Obama spoke just four days after US-born Syed Rizwan Farook and his Pakistani wife opened fire on a holiday party for civil servants in San Bernardino, California, killing 14 people.
The pair were killed hours later in a shoot-out with the police.
While he called radicalisation through the Internet a "new phase" of terrorism, Mr Obama said there was "no evidence that the killers were directed by a terrorist organisation overseas or that they were part of a broader conspiracy here at home".
ISIS, which is based in Iraq and Syria, has praised the San Bernardino attackers.
"We cannot turn against one another by letting this fight be defined as a war between America and Islam," Mr Obama said, stressing that ISIS members account for just a mere fraction of the Muslim population in the world.
Republicans have demanded that Mr Obama, who is a Democratic president, back a full-scale deployment of Nato ground forces to Syria.
Conservatives have also taken issue with Mr Obama's refusal to use the phrase "radical Islam".
"Well, Obama refused to say (he just can't say it), that we are at WAR with RADICAL ISLAMIC TERRORISTS," Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump tweeted after the address.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who is also seeking the presidency, told Fox News: "People are scared not just because of these attacks but because of a growing sense that we have a president who is completely overwhelmed by them."
Since late last year, Mr Obama has deployed about 3,500 US troops back to Iraq on a train-and-advise mission.
The Pentagon announced last week it was sending scores more in a special operations expeditionary force against ISIS. AGENCIES