Washnigton: US lawmakers pledged support on Thursday for President Barack Obama`s plan to expand the military fight against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, but fears of an open-ended conflict and questions about how to pay for it could complicate any vote on the effort.
Obama sent a panel of top administration officials to the Capitol to make the case to the US Congress for broadening operations against the group, including US airstrikes in Syria for the first time and more military advisers in Iraq.
In a televised address on Wednesday night, the Democratic president declared he would lead an alliance to root out Islamic State, plunging the United States into two conflicts in which nearly every country in the Middle East has a stake.
Administration officials argue that Obama does not need Congress` formal authorization for strikes against the militants, but they want legislators` support to show a united front both against opponents and to other nations asked to become allies.
John Boehner, the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, said Obama had made a "compelling case for action" in his speech.
Congress` Republican leaders generally backed Obama`s plans, although they want more details. But they must work to unite various factions within their party, which include many members deeply skeptical of Obama`s leadership and spending plans and others who want the United States to cut back sharply on foreign military involvement.
Boehner said Republican House members, who met on Thursday morning, have doubts about whether Obama`s plan can accomplish his mission of destroying the group, which has killed thousands of people in recent months.
"An F-16 is not a strategy. And air strikes alone will not accomplish what we’re trying to accomplish. The president’s made clear that he doesn’t want boots on the ground, well somebody’s boots have to be on the ground," Ohio Representative Boehner told a news conference.
Islamic State is a Sunni group that embraces a radical vision of a Middle East ruled along 7th century precepts. Its fighters are battling a Shi`ite-led government in Iraq and a Syrian government led by President Bashar al-Assad, a follower of an offshoot of Shi`ite Islam.
US Secretary of State John Kerry has won support from 10 Arab countries for a "coordinated military campaign" against the militant group.