US general says raiding Syria is key to halting ISIS

US general says raiding Syria is key to halting ISIS
‘This is an organization that has an apocalyptic end-of-days strategic vision that will eventually have to be defeated,’ said the chairman, General Martin E Dempsey, in his most expansive public remarks on the crisis since American airstrikes began in Iraq. ‘Can they be defeated without addressing that part of the organization that resides in Syria? The answer is no.’

But General Dempsey and defense secretary Chuck Hagel, who both spoke at a Pentagon news conference, gave no indication that President Obama was about to approve air strikes in Syria.

General Dempsey also was circumspect in describing the sort of broad effort that would be required to roll back ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

Mleiha, a suburb east of Damascus, was captured this month by Syrian government troops after five months of heavy fighting.

President Obama on Martha’s Vineyard on Wednesday. Republicans and Democrats have said his vacation is ill timed.

President Obama talked about Iraq at the White House on Saturday. He has yet to detail a plan for rolling back ISIS’ gains.

‘It requires a variety of instruments, only one small part of which is airstrikes,’ he said. ‘I’m not predicting those will occur in Syria, at least not by the United States of America. But it requires the application of all of the tools of national power - diplomatic, economic, information, military.’

Even so, General Dempsey’s comments were notable because he is the president’s top military adviser and had been among the most outspoken in describing the risks of ordering airstrikes in Syria when the civil war there began.

In the current battle with ISIS inside Iraq, Mr. Obama’s military strategy has been aimed at containing the militant organization rather than defeating it, according to Defense Department officials and military experts. Pressed on whether the United States would conduct airstrikes on ISIS targets in Syria, Mr. Hagel said that ‘we’re looking at all options.’

Any use of air power involves risk, including the possibility that innocent civilians may be hurt or killed, or that a piloted aircraft might be shot down. Airstrikes in Syria would also draw the White House more deeply into a conflict from which it has sought to maintain some distance. But there is also risk in not acting, because it is very difficult to defeat a militant group that is allowed to maintain a sanctuary.



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