Barack Obama
President Barack Obama says force is necessary to counter the 'grave threat' of IsisReuters

US President Barack Obama has asked Congress to formally authorise the use of military force against the Islamic State (Isis) group for a period of three years without geographical boundaries.

Obama sent a joint resolution to lawmakers, arguing the use of force is necessary to counter the jihadist group as it "poses a grave threat to the people and territorial integrity of Iraq and Syria, regional stability, and the national security interests of the United States and its allies and partners", according to a draft copy of the text.

In an accompanying letter, the president cited IS brutality and the murders of American hostages to urge congressmen to "show the world we are united in our resolve to counter the threat".

Obama is expected to illustrate the request speaking from the White House this afternoon (11 February), a day after 26-year-old US humanitarian worker and IS Kayla Mueller was confirmed dead after being held hostage by IS.

The draft resolution asks for a three year mandate, with the duty for the president to report to Congress at least once every six months.

No geographical limits are laid out regarding where US forces can target IS and its affiliates, leaving open the door for possible operations outside Syria and Iraq.

The document however rules out the use of ground forces for "enduring offensive ground combat operations".

"The authorisation I propose would provide the flexibility to conduct ground combat operations in other more limited circumstances, such as rescue operations involving US or coalition personnel or the use of special operations forces to take military action against Isil leadership," Obama said, using another acronym for the group.

The resolution seeks a bipartisan approval of the ongoing campaign against the Islamist militants, which was authorised by Obama without prior congressional permission.

The White House had argued that congressional authorisations used by President George W Bush to justify military action after 9/11 were sufficient for him to launch air strikes in Iraq and Syria and deploy some 2,700 troops to train Iraqi security forces.

Below is the full text of the draft resolution sent to Congress:

JOINT RESOLUTION

To authorize the limited use of the United States Armed Forces against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Whereas the terrorist organization that has referred to itself as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and various other names (in this resolution referred to as "ISIL") poses a grave threat to the people and territorial integrity of Iraq and Syria, regional stability, and the national security interests of the United States and its allies and partners;

Whereas ISIL holds significant territory in Iraq and Syria and has stated its intention to seize more territory and demonstrated the capability to do so;

Whereas ISIL leaders have stated that they intend to conduct terrorist attacks internationally, including against the United States, its citizens, and interests;

Whereas ISIL has committed despicable acts of violence and mass executions against Muslims, regardless of sect, who do not subscribe to ISIL's depraved, violent, and oppressive ideology;

Whereas ISIL has threatened genocide and committed vicious acts of violence against religious and ethnic minority groups, including Iraqi Christian, Yezidi, and Turkmen populations;

Whereas ISIL has targeted innocent women and girls with horrific acts of violence, including abduction, enslavement, torture, rape, and forced marriage;

Whereas ISIL is responsible for the deaths of innocent United States citizens, including James Foley, Steven Sotloff, Abdul-Rahman Peter Kassig, and Kayla Mueller;

Whereas the United States is working with regional and global allies and partners to degrade and defeat ISIL, to cut off its funding, to stop the flow of foreign fighters to its ranks, and to support local communities as they reject ISIL;

Whereas the announcement of the anti-ISIL Coalition on September 5, 2014, during the NATO Summit in Wales, stated that ISIL poses a serious threat and should be countered by a broad international coalition;

Whereas the United States calls on its allies and partners, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, that have not already done so to join and participate in the anti-ISIL Coalition;

Whereas the United States has taken military action against ISIL in accordance with its inherent right of individual and collective self-defense;

Whereas President Obama has repeatedly expressed his commitment to working with Congress to pass a bipartisan authorization for the use of military force for the anti-ISIL military campaign; and

Whereas President Obama has made clear that in this campaign it is more effective to use our unique capabilities in support of partners on the ground instead of large-scale deployments of U.S. ground forces: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This joint resolution may be cited as the "Authorization for Use of Military Force against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant."

SEC. 2. AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES.

(a) AUTHORIZATION._The President is authorized, subject to the limitations in subsection (c), to use the Armed Forces of the United States as the President determines to be necessary and appropriate against ISIL or associated persons or forces as defined in section 5.

(b) WAR POWERS RESOLUTION REQUIREMENTS.—

(1) SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORIZATION._Consistent with section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1547(a)(1)), Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1544(b)).

(2) APPLICABILITY OF OTHER REQUIREMENTS._Nothing in this resolution supersedes any requirement of the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1541 et seq.).

(c) LIMITATIONS.—

The authority granted in subsection (a) does not authorize the use of the United States Armed Forces in enduring offensive ground combat operations.

SEC. 3. DURATION OF THIS AUTHORIZATION.

This authorization for the use of military force shall terminate three years after the date of the enactment of this joint resolution, unless reauthorized.

SEC. 4. REPORTS.

The President shall report to Congress at least once every six months on specific actions taken pursuant to this authorization.

SEC. 5. ASSOCIATED PERSONS OR FORCES DEFINED.

In this joint resolution, the term "associated persons or forces" means individuals and organizations fighting for, on behalf of, or alongside ISIL or any closely-related successor entity in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners.

SEC. 6. REPEAL OF AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF MILITARY FORCE AGAINST IRAQ.

The Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 (Public Law 107-243; 116 Stat. 1498; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note) is hereby repealed.