By Laura Barron-Lopez - 09/07/14 09:17 AM EDT
President Obama said he plans to address the nation on the threat posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) on Wednesday, vowing to "hunt down" the terrorists.
“What I'm going to be asking the American people to understand is, No. 1, this is a serious threat,” Obama said about the Wednesday speech. “No. 2, we have the capacity to deal with it.”
“This is not the equivalent of the Iraq war,” Obama says, emphasizing he won’t advocate for the deployment of U.S. ground troops.
Obama said he is optimistic the U.S. can "blunt the momentum of [ISIS]" over the next few months.
"We are going to systematically degrade their capabilities. We're going to shrink the territory that they control. And that's how we're going to defeat them," he said.
Obama added that the strategy for handling Iraq and Syria is to "hunt down [ISIS] members and assets wherever they are."
"I will reserve the right to always protect the American people and go after folks who are trying to hurt us wherever they are," he said.
Despite the immediacy of the Wednesday's speech, Obama said no "immediate intelligence" indicates any threat to the U.S. by ISIS.
That could change though, Obama warned. If ISIS continues to grow and recruit foreign fighters, then they could attempt attacks on U.S. soil.
Obama said Friday the U.S. and its allies must "degrade and ultimately defeat" ISIS, adding that the terror network could not be simply contained.
"You can't contain an organization running roughshod through that much territory, causing that much havoc, displacing that many people, killing that many innocents, enslaving that many women. The goal has to be to dismantle them," the president said during a press conference following the NATO summit in Wales.
The president said his administration had been "systematic and methodical" in targeting other terror organizations, and vowed "to dismantle this network ... so that they can't do us harm."
"We are going to degrade and ultimately defeat [ISIS], the same way that we have gone after al Qaeda, the same way we have gone after the al Qaeda affiliate in Somalia," Obama said.
— This report was updated at 9:29 a.m.