President Barack Obama has urged the Republican-controlled Congress to strengthen US policies to take on Islamic State (Isis) militants.

Delivering his sixth and State of the Union address, the president urged the house to authorise stepping up the military campaign against IS militants.

Obama said: "Instead of getting dragged into another ground war in the Middle East, we are leading a broad coalition, including Arab nations, to degrade and ultimately destroy this terrorist group."

"We're also supporting a moderate opposition in Syria that can help us in this effort, and assisting people everywhere who stand up to the bankrupt ideology of violent extremism. This effort will take time. It will require focus. But we will succeed."

Republican politicians, who have a majority in Congress following the elections in November, have said they are ready to consider the proposals.

Obama said: "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."

In a freewheeling speech, largely aimed at the domestic audience especially the middle-class, the president used the opportunity to highlight the achievements of the Obama administration in its six years in office.

Declaring that the US has finally turned the corner from recession, Obama promised to push forward with "middle-class economics".

Responding to the president's address, Republican Senator Joni Ernst said: "Americans have been hurting, but when we demand solutions, too often Washington responded with the same stale mindset that led to failed policies like 'Obamacare'. It's a mindset that gave us political talking points, not serious solutions."