Obama says mulling options against Islamic State
Updated: 2014-08-29 08:32
US President Barack Obama answers questions in the White House Press Briefing Room ahead of a meeting with his national security council in Washington, August 28, 2014.[Photo/Agencies]
WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama said on Thursday he has asked his administration to prepare a range of military options against the Islamic State (IS) forces in Iraq and Syria.
At a press conference at White House's briefing room, Obama said he has ordered Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to prepare "a range of options" as he considers future military action.
But the president admitted that his administration so far does not have a strategy in combating the militant Islamic group that has grabbed large chunks of territories in Iraq and Syria.
"If we can't have a sound military strategy, then the idea that the United States or any outside power would perpetually defeat IS I think is unrealistic," Obama said.
The president said he would be meeting later Thursday with the National Security to continue to develop that strategy. He also promised to continue to consult with Congress on the issue, saying that "I will consult with Congress and made sure their voices are heard."
"The options that I'm asking for from the Joint Chiefs focuses primarily on making sure that IS is not overrunning Iraq," He said.
"I don't want to put the cart before the horse. We don't have a strategy yet. Some of the news reports suggests that folks are getting a little further ahead of where we're at than we currently are," he said.
Obama said that IS poses an immediate threat to the people of Iraq and to people throughout the region, calling for need of strong regional partners.
He said that he was dispatching State Secretary John Kerry to the area to work with US allies. "Kerry will be there to continue to build the coalition that's needed to meet this threat. "
"As I've said, rooting out a cancer like IS will not be quick or easy, but I'm confident that we can and we will, working closely with our allies and our partners," he said.
"Our focus right now is to protect American personnel on the ground in Iraq, to protect our embassy, to protect our consulates, to make sure that critical infrastructure that could adversely affect our personnel is protected," he said.
Earlier this week, the president approved military surveillance flights over Syria, but air strikes in the country have not been authorized. Since early this month, US military planes have carried out over 100 airstrikes in Iraq.
"Because of our strikes, the terrorists of IS are losing arms and equipment. In some areas, Iraqi government and Kurdish forces have begun to push them back, " he added.