This image appears to show ISIS militants leading away captured Iraqi soldiers dressed in plain clothes after taking over a base in Tikrit, Iraq. (AP/PTI Photo)
The US said on Thursday that to crush the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), it will have to be dealt with in Syria. And, as of now, “all options were” on the table.
“This is an organisation that has an apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision and which will eventually have to be defeated,” said chairman of the joint chiefs of staff Martin Dempsey. “Can they be defeated without addressing that part of their organisation which resides in Syria? The answer is no. That will have to be addressed on both sides of what is essentially at this point a nonexistent border.”
The general gave no indication of impending US military action in Syria, saying very clearly, “I’m not predicting those will occur in Syria, at least not by the US.”
But when asked if airstrikes into Syria were likely, secretary of defense Chuck Hagel, who addressed the briefing with Dempsey, said, “We are looking at all options.” They were both clear, though, airstrikes alone won’t do. An inclusive government in Baghdad would be critical, for one. “Political reform will make it harder for ISIS to exploit sectarian divisions,” said Hagel.
Outrage over the execution of American journalist James Foley is building pressure on the Obama administration to do more against the ISIS.
Hagel said: “ISIS is as sophisticated and well-funded as any group that we have seen. They’re beyond just a terrorist group. They marry ideology, a sophistication of strategic and tactical military prowess. They are tremendously well-funded.” “This is beyond anything that we’ve seen. So we must prepare for everything,” he added.
President Barack Obama has called the ISIS “cancer”.