White House strongly hints US will strike ISIL in Syria

FA-18 fighter jets

The White House says the United States is considering taking the fight against ISIL militants into Syria after targeting the terrorist group in Iraq.

On Friday, the White House called the group’s beheading of American journalist James Foley a “terrorist attack” against the United States, adding that Washington would not be “restricted to borders” in responding to terror threats emerging from ISIL, which is operating in Iraq and Syria.

Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser to President Barack Obama, hinted that any long-term strategy to confront ISIL has to “deal with both sides of the border” of Iraq and Syria.

“When you see somebody killed in such a horrific way, that represents a terrorist attack. That represents a terrorist attack against our country and against an American citizen,” Rhodes said.

On Thursday, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey said the ISIL militants cannot be defeated unless the US or its allies attack them in Syria.

Observers say the statements could be an effort to prepare the Americans for a new US war in the Middle East region.

US lawmakers, including Senator John McCain and Senator Bill Nelson, have pressed for the expansion of the US air campaign to hit ISIL bases in Syria.

The US military believes the ISIL terrorists have a highly mobile force that may number as many 17,000 fighters and can move across the Iraq-Syria border with impunity.

US warplanes on Thursday conducted six more strikes on ISIL targets in northern Iraq after conducting 14 on Wednesday following the beheading of American journalist James Foley this week by the militants.

The attacks brought to 90 the total number of airstrikes conducted by the fighter jets, drones, and bombers that the United States has unleashed on the militants since President Barack Obama authorized the strikes earlier this month.

The gruesome execution of Foley has drawn an angry, emotional reaction from members of Congress, with some calling on Obama to redouble the fight against ISIL. “Seldom is the descriptor ‘evil’ applied with perfect accuracy as it is with this monstrous group,’’ said US Representative Adam B. Schiff, a Democrat from California.

ISIL, which controls parts of Syria, sent its fighters into neighboring Iraq in June and quickly seized large swaths of territory straddling the border between the two countries. The US has been providing arms and training to militant groups in Syria to fight the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

According to media reports, the militants were trained by the CIA in Jordan in 2012.

By Press TV


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