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Hillary Clinton to outline strategy to defeat ISIS after Paris attacks

NEW YORK -- In a speech here Thursday, Hillary Clinton will lay out a detailed plan to defeat the Islamic State and fight the broader threat of "radical jihadism" around the world.

The speech, announced by her campaign on Tuesday, is her direct response to the terrorist attacks in Paris last Friday which killed more than 120 people and left scores more critically injured. The Islamic State, also known as ISIS, has taken responsibility for the attacks.

"Our prayers are with the people of France tonight," Clinton said at the Democratic debate on Saturday, "but that is not enough. We need to have a resolve that will bring the world together to root out the kind of radical jihadist ideology that motivates organizations like ISIS, a barbaric, ruthless, violent jihadist group."

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Clinton hinted at her Thursday speech that night, saying that she would soon outline how, as president, she would work closely with American allies in "Europe and elsewhere to do a better job of coordinating efforts against the scourge of terrorism."

According to an aide, Clinton will lay out a three-part plan on Thursday to defeat ISIS in Syria, Iraq and the surrounding region, "dismantle" the wider infrastructure used by terrorist organizations to train fighters and spread their message, and strengthen the U.S. and its allies' defenses against terrorist threats at home and abroad.

When asked how she would address terrorism on the campaign trail, Clinton describes a coalition brought together through extensive diplomacy to wage a "focused and sustainable" effort against ISIS' growing influence. The U.S., under Clinton's plan, would provide air support, intelligence and reconnaissance to partner countries engaged in the fight against ISIS on the ground and, separately, focus on cutting off ISIS' lines of financial support.

Clinton has also called for a no-fly zone over Syria, which she describes as an important way to create stability and bring other nations to the negotiating table. But while she often strikes a more hawkish tone than her rivals, Clinton has repeatedly said that she would not send combat troops to Iraq or Syria to fight ISIS.

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At a roundtable on veterans issues in New Hampshire recently, she also said she would not issue a formal declaration of war against "radical Islamic terrorism."

"Here is why I would not," she said. "I think that when you go to a formal declaration of war, you have to really understand who the enemy is, what you are trying to achieve against that enemy [and] what the resources you are going to need are."

Clinton's main challenger for the Democratic nomination, Bernie Sanders, is also steadfast in his opposition to American involvement in "perpetual warfare" in the region, and Clinton's speech Thursday will put both her similarities and differences with Sanders on display.

Just hours after Clinton's event, Sanders is set to make his own speech in Washington D.C. The focus of Sanders' remarks will be on the meaning of "democratic socialism," but he will also lay out "specific ideas on U.S. foreign policy, how the U.S. can lead the world in defeating ISIS and a long-term strategy to promote a safer and more peaceful world," according to his campaign.

Clinton will also have the opportunity Thursday to differentiate herself from President Barack Obama, who is facing growing questions about his record in light of the attacks in Paris. Clinton's unique position in the race, as a former member of Obama's cabinet, has left her vulnerable to attacks from Republicans who pin her to his strategy.

"Hillary Clinton can't walk away from President Obama's failing ISIS strategy because she helped craft it and even praised it," Michael Short, the spokesman for the Republican National Committee, said in a statement on Wednesday. "The fact Hillary Clinton said President Obama was 'making the right moves' combating ISIS while it was making gains across the Middle East shows she's the wrong person to take on and defeat this growing terrorist threat."

Clinton has been hesitant to criticize Obama's strategy outright. When John Dickerson, the host of Face the Nation, asked her in the debate if the President's legacy would be that he "underestimated the threat from ISIS," Clinton hedged.

"I think what the president has consistently said, which I agree with, is that we will support those who take the fight to ISIS," she said.

She added that she proposed "early on" that the U.S. should "train and equip moderates," for fear of "extremist groups filling the vacuum."

"I think that there are many other reasons why it has in addition to what happened in the region, but I don't think that the United States has the bulk of the responsibility," she said. "I really put that on Assad and on the Iraqis and on the region itself."

Clinton supports the President's plan to put 50 special operations forces on the ground in northern Syria.

On the issue of whether or not the U.S. should accept Syrian refugees, Clinton has advocated going further than Obama and accepting 65,000 refugees. At a campaign event on Tuesday in Dallas, Clinton reiterated her support for resettling refugees in the United States and the importance of carefully vetting each person.

Late on Wednesday night, Clinton gave another preview of what she would say on Thursday.

"The loss of lives to terrorism is tragic and abhorrent, in Nigeria as in Europe," she wrote on Twitter. "We must all come together to end this scourge."

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