Defense official confirms US considering air strikes in Syria as ISIS advances
By End the Lie
The United States military is considering launching air strikes on Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria, a senior defense official revealed on Saturday as the group made advances toward the border with Turkey.
The unnamed official told Fox News that he did not expect anything “imminent,” but the plan is under consideration given the group’s territorial gains and the beheading of American freelance journalist James Foley.
Earlier this week, a senior official in the White House and two top U.S. military leaders publicly raised the possibility of expanding strikes on IS targets beyond the current operations in Iraq.
“We’re actively considering what’s going to be necessary to deal with that threat, and we’re not going to be restricted by borders,” said Ben Rhodes, President Obama’s deputy national security adviser, on Friday. “We’ve shown time and again that if there’s a counterterrorism threat, we’ll take direct action against that threat, if necessary.”
Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, raised the possibility on Thursday.
“Can they be defeated without addressing that part of their organization which resides in Syria? The answer is no,” Dempsey said at a Pentagon press conference. “That (sanctuary) will have to be addressed on both sides of what is essentially at this point a nonexistent border.”
While the official who spoke to Fox News seemed to put the strikes off in the indefinite future, other military officials said they could be much sooner.
Military officials cited by the Wall Street Journal said that the military would need anywhere from an hour to “as much as a week” to mount strikes on high-value targets like individual IS leaders, according to the Guardian.
“If it’s based on training camps, we could do that pretty soon,” the official said.
The New York Times reports that the strikes could included unmanned drone strike on IS leaders, similar to those in Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan.
In addition, the U.S. has been discussing ways for allies like Britain, France, Australia and Canada to become involved with fighting IS. Such partnerships could include intelligence sharing, military assistance for Kurdish forces in Iraq and more moderate opposition forces in Syria as well as joining the U.S. in military action if necessary, the Associated Press reports.
Meanwhile, IS terrorists are pushing toward the border between Turkey and Syria in order to secure the border as the main gateway for recruits to join the fight, according to the Guardian.
The British outlet reports that large numbers of Islamic State jihadists are moving toward the border this weekend in armored trucks looted from abandoned Iraqi military bases.
“The Turkish border is the only way to smuggle oil, weapons and foreign fighters into [Iraq and Syria],” Dr. Hisham al-Hashimi, an Iraqi expert on ISIS, said to the Guardian. “If it’s closed, it will cut three things: funding, an entrance for the foreign fighters and links to Europe which they are trying to open. If those plans are destroyed, they will aim for another gate to Lebanon.”
The U.S. and European governments have been attempting to get Turkey to do more to stop jihadists from crossing into Syria for some 18 months now, with little to no success.
European governments have reportedly been increasingly frustrated by an apparent unwillingness to stop jihadists from crossing the border on the part of Turkey since the militants were destabilizing the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, according to the Guardian.