The Islamic State has reportedly as many as 17,000 fighters who can move across the Iraq-Syria border with impunity, The New York Times said today, quoting U.S. military and civilian officials. U.S. warplanes have conducted 90 airstrikes against IS positions since 8 August, including 20 since they beheaded James Foley, an American journalist.
American officials said that the United States was conducting reconnaissance over Syria, but that attacks by drones or manned strike aircraft on Islamic State positions in Syria had not been ordered. (The New York Times, 21 August)
Other important points covered by Gen. Dempsey and Secretary Hagel at the news conference on Islamic State (IS):
- Hagel: IS is as sophisticated and well-funded as any group that we have seen. They're beyond just a terrorist group.
- Hagel: “Terrorism is not new to the world...sophistication of terrorism and ideology married now with resources presents a whole new dynamic.”
- Hagel: IS poses threats greater than 9/11; “This is beyond anything that we've seen. We must prepare for everything.”
- Hagel: Evidence is clear — IS is barbaric. They are an imminent threat.
- Dempsey: This is an organization that has an apocalyptic vision that will eventually have to be defeated.
- Hagel and Dempsey: Assad is absolutely part of the problem not the solution to IS in Syria. IS must be defeated in Syria as well as Iraq.