Obama calls on Congress to authorise new force against ISIS

US President Barack Obama delivers the State of The Union address on Jan 20, 2015, at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. Mr Obama on Tuesday called on the US Congress to pass a new authorisation of force against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (IS
US President Barack Obama delivers the State of The Union address on Jan 20, 2015, at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. Mr Obama on Tuesday called on the US Congress to pass a new authorisation of force against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group. -- PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (REUTERS, AFP) – President Barack Obama on Tuesday called on the US Congress to pass a new authorisation of force against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group. 

Obama said a US-led coalition of countries is stopping the advance of the ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

“I call on this Congress to show the world that we are united in this mission by passing a resolution to authorise the use of force against the ISIL", he said in his annual State of the Union address, using another acronym for the militant group.

Obama said the United States stands side by side with the victims of terror, referring to Pakistan and Paris.

"We stand united with people around the world who've been targeted by terrorists - from a school in Pakistan to the streets of Paris."

"We will continue to hunt down terrorists and dismantle their networks, and we reserve the right to act unilaterally, as we've done relentlessly since I took office to take out terrorists who pose a direct threat to us and our allies,'' he added.

Dozens of US lawmakers paid tribute to the victims of the Islamist attacks in Paris by holding up pencils during Obama’s speech.

Democratic Representative Gwen Moore led the show of support in which about 40 lawmakers – mainly Democrats – held up and waved yellow pencils as Obama declared the United States stands united with people who’ve been targeted by terrorists.

Referencing how the pencil has become a global symbol of free speech in the wake of the brutal attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, Moore’s office called the symbolic event a “unique opportunity to join our global partners in showing our collective support and solidarity.”

Crowds in several cities have taken to raising pencils skyward in memory of the 12 killed earlier this month at the magazine, several of whom were well-known cartoonists.

In his address, Obama also urged Congress not to rush into new sanctions on Iran over its disputed nuclear program. Several US Senators have been pushing to pass new sanctions as talks between the Islamic Republic and six world powers over its nuclear program drag on.

But the US president said in his speech that any new sanctions on Iran passed by Congress before the talks are completed “will all but guarantee that diplomacy fails.”