Washington: President Barack Obama has far not decided on whether to launch military strikes on Islamic State militants in Syria, the White House has said.
“The President thus far has not made a decision to order additional military action in Syria. That said, the President remains committed, as he has throughout this situation, throughout the advance of ISIL in Iraq — has remained committed to consulting regularly with members of Congress and congressional leaders,” White House Press Secretary, Josh Earnest, told reporters.
However, he did not rule out the military option.
“The President has demonstrated a willingness on a number of occasions to take the action that’s necessary, to order the military action that’s necessary to protect American citizens.
And that is true without regard to international boundaries,” he said.
Syria warned the US yesterday not to conduct airstrikes inside its territory against the Islamic State group without Damascus’ consent, saying any such attack would be considered an aggression.
The United States, he said, is concerned about the threat that’s posed by ISIL, principally because of this situation as it relates to foreign fighters.
“Again, these are individuals who have Western passports, citizens of Western countries who have travelled to this region of the world to take up arms alongside ISIL fighters,” he said in response to a question.
One of the concerns that the President has had about the situation in Iraq is that there are American personnel, both diplomatic and security personnel, in Baghdad and Erbil, specifically.
There was a threat that was posed by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) as they were making gains in both of those cities.
“There is no question that ISIL has demonstrated a pretty significant military capability. They rapidly made gains across western and northern Iraq in a way that overran what was previously believed to be a pretty effective Iraq security force. Now, there are a variety of reasons for that,” he said.
“Some of it is a testament to the military sophistication of ISIL. Some of it was also due to the weakness of Iraq’s government — it wasn’t particularly inclusive and they hadn’t built up a security force that was inclusive and committed to protecting the entire country,” he said.
Responding to questions, Earnest said as of now there is no evidence that ISIL poses a direct threat to the United States.
“According to intelligence assessments that there is no evidence of an active plot right now,” he said.
“We are concerned about the role that so-called foreign
fighters could play in undermining the security of Western nations,” he said.