- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 20, 2014

President Obama said Saturday that he’ll lobby foreign leaders next week at the United Nations to join a U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State terrorists in Iraq and Syria.

“At the United Nations, I’ll continue to rally the world against this threat,” Mr. Obama said in his weekly address. “This is a moment of American leadership.”

The president signed legislation Friday that includes $500 million to arm and train Syrian rebels to fight the Islamic State militants on the ground, while the U.S. plans to escalate air strikes against the terrorists.

France has agreed to conduct air strikes in the campaign, and Saudi Arabia is providing bases to train the Syrian rebels. But no other nations have signed up yet to send troops or conduct military missions.

Mr. Obama said more than 40 countries “have offered to help the broad campaign,” with humanitarian relief and equipment. He said the U.S. is providing essential leadership.

“When the world is threatened; when the world needs help; it calls on America,” he said. “And we call on our troops. Whether it’s to degrade and ultimately destroy a group of terrorists, or to contain and combat a threat like the Ebola epidemic in Africa; we ask a lot of our troops.”

The U.S. now as about 1,600 military personnel in Iraq serving as advisers for the Iraqi army, but Mr. Obama has vowed that he will not send American combat ground troops.

White House national security adviser Susan E. Rice said the Syrian rebels, numbering no more than 5,000 fighters, won’t be ready for action for “many months.” The Islamic State has as many as 31,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria, according to the latest CIA estimates.

The president is spending the weekend with his family at Camp David in Maryland.

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