Washington: In the wake of deployment of over 1,500 more soldiers to Iraq, President Barack Obama said that the strategy of the US-led anti-jihadist coalition had marked a “new phase” as rather than just checking the Islamic State's advance, they were now in a position to “go on the offense” against the extremists.
Speaking to Bob Schieffer of the CBS news in an exclusive interview to the “Face the Nation”, Obama said that the decision to double the number of American combat advisors in Iraq hinted that the strategy to fight against the ISIS had turned on a new leaf as the first phase of getting a credible and inclusive Iraqi government, was over.
"Rather than just try to halt IS's momentum, we're now in a position to start going on some offense," Obama told the CBS news.
Obama's comments come a day after he authorised the deployment of 1500 more advisors to Iraq.
Talking about the additional advisors, Obama said they, along with coalition members would train Iraqi soldiers and peshmerga fighters at various training centres and assist them with the strategy and logistics to fight ISIS on the ground.
“When they begin to go on the offense against ISIS, the US will provide close air support,” Obama added.
Obama however made it clear that the US troops were only for non-combat roles.
The President also highlighted the impact of anti-IS coalition air strikes, explaining how they had helped rein in the advance of the ISIS and degrade their capabilities.
Obama went on to say that what they needed next were Iraqi troops on ground to fight the ISIS.
Obama's remarks came as the US airstrikes in Iraq's Mosul was said to have killed 10 ISIS vehicles and there were reports of Islamic State Caliph Abu Bakr-al Baghdadi being injured critically in the attack.
Authorities in Iraq were in the process of ascertaining if the IS caliph was killed in the strikes.
According to a BBC report that cited the Facebook post of Defence Minister Khalid al-Obeidi, Baghdadi was said to have been critically injured in the attack.
"We have confirmation that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was wounded in an allied forces air raid... in the town of Mosul last Friday evening.. We confirm the death of his deputy, Abu-Muslim al-Turkmani. We pray to God not to help [Baghdadi] recover and to speed up his demise," the BBC quoted the Facebook post of Defence Minister Khalid al-Obeidi.
The US-led coalition has conducted a series of air strikes targeting a gathering of Islamic State leaders near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, a senior US defence official says.
“We cannot confirm if ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was among those present,” a news agency quoted him.
The ISIS overran a huge swathe of Iraq and Syria in June and established the so-called “Islamic State” across occupied areas and anointed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as its caliph.
Declaring the Caliphate, Baghdadi who rarely makes public appearances, appeared at a mosque in July, demanding all Muslims to pledge allegiance to him.
The US has imposed a bounty worth $10 million on the al-Baghdadi's head.