News / Middle East

Obama Signals No Immediate Airstrikes in Syria

President Barack Obama, Aug. 28, 2014.
President Barack Obama, Aug. 28, 2014.
VOA News

President Barack Obama is downplaying the possibility of imminent U.S. airstrikes against Islamic extremists in Syria, as the insurgents released a new video appearing to show another brutal beheading.

Speaking to reporters Thursday at the White House, Obama said he is still working on a comprehensive plan to deal with the group.

The president said the U.S. will continue strikes on Islamic State targets in Iraq, which he said have dealt a blow to the militants, but added that recent media speculation about whether the U.S. would soon expand the operation to Syria is presumptive.

On Friday, the SITE Intelligence Group said the militants posted a new video appearing to show three masked men beheading a captured Kurdish soldier. The monitoring service says the video warned Kurdish leader Massud Barzani to stop allying with U.S. forces.

The group has repeatedly released bloody execution videos, including one showing the beheading of American journalist James Foley. It has threatened to carry out more beheadings if the U.S. does not stop its airstrikes in Iraq.

U.S. officials say they are studying possible limited military action in Syria. Last week, Obama authorized air surveillance on Islamist fighters there.

A call for regional cooperation

At his news conference Thursday, the president insisted U.S. force alone cannot deal with the threat, saying the region must work together.

"This should be a wake-up call to Sunni, to Shia, to everybody, that a group like ISIS is beyond the pale, that they have no vision or ideology beyond violence and chaos and the slaughter of innocent people. And as a consequence, we've got to all join together, even if we have differences on a range of political issues, to make sure they're rooted out," said Obama

Obama spoke before meeting with his national security team on the crises in Iraq and Syria. There was no word about what was decided on at the meeting.

Syria said this week it would welcome U.S. and British help in fighting the militants, but only in coordination with Damascus. It says a unilateral U.S. attack would violate its airspace and could lead to an attempt to shoot down American warplanes.

U.S. officials have said they would not first consult Syria as President Bashar al-Assad has lost the authority to lead.

Calls for greater U.S. intervention have been mounting as the extremists continue their campaign, which U.N. officials have said amounts to ethnic and religious cleansing.

On Friday, U.N. chief Ban Ki-Moon again expressed outrage at the group's "brutal killings of civilians" in Iraq and Syria. Ban said whole communities that had lived for generations in northern Iraq are being forced to flee or face death just for their religious beliefs.

Islamic State waterboarding

Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported Friday that the Islamic State group has waterboarded at least four Western hostages held in Syria.

The paper said the hostages included James Foley, the American journalist who was beheaded by an Islamic State militant.

The Post cited people with firsthand knowledge of what happened to the hostages.

Waterboarding, or simulated drowning, is regarded by many, including President Obama and international rights groups, as a form of torture.

The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency used the interrogation method on terror suspects arrested after the September 11 attacks in 2001.

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Comment Sorting
by: meanbill from: USA
August 29, 2014 12:04 PM
What can the US the greatest super power on earth do when challenged by "The Emir of the Believers" al-Baghdadi (ISIL) Sunni Muslim army that cuts off an Americans head on the worldwide news?.... (Obama will bomb a few more (ISIL) army pickup trucks, armored vehicles, and artillery pieces, and arm and train more Sunni Muslims to attack Assad in Syria?)..... (Didn't Obama say after killing Bin Laden, the world is a safer place?)

by: Hughes from: USA
August 29, 2014 7:49 AM
Regardless of political party affiliation, it is very short sighted to blame Obama for inaction in Syria. The rest of the industrialized world - Europe and Japan - have adopted a "wait-for-America-do-it" attitude. This problem will affect the entire western world. America will break down if it tries to solve every conflict in every region of this planet. What Obama should be doing is rally the industrialized world and so-called United Nations to do their job. The U.N. was created to protect member states, but it now waits for America to do it.

by: Mr A from: New York
August 29, 2014 6:56 AM
The American policy makers are acting as a person he refuses to understand. We have to co operate with Bashar el Assad To fight ISIs. it is clear that Basar El Assad is less evil than these thugs which prove beyond reasons of doubt that they are dangerous oversees and at local level. ISIS is wake Up call to demonstrate the dangerous of Islam . US have been identified 100 jihadist by Us local Enforcement and these thugs should not return to US even they are American Citizen. Us has to work with Europe and use its resources to identify over 5000 European joined Jihadist to apprehend them to contain the problem

by: Lawrence Bush from: Houston, USA
August 29, 2014 6:20 AM
What'er our air strikes going against the IS militia and their advancements inside the Iraqi territory; and, beheading our journalist Foley; the inhuman, barbaric brutalities of this group, ....... the targets for our govt. remain inside the Iraqi territory only. In the meantime, the infandus Assad regime plays an amazing diplomacy - as our jounalist Foley was beheaded by the IS militia, what we Americans should do - our govt. and our friendly states should move with the Assad regime to liquidating the IS inside the Syrian territory that the Assad regime does unsuccessfully fights against.

Still the threatening of the Syrian foreign minister we should not go for a pre-emptive air strikes violating the Syrian rex status; not else, the regime air defense systems to shoot our fighter aircrafts down. The Syrian regime's foreign minister's childish statements do not misle our govt. Our govt. does move with a proper strategy while upkeeping our personnel, interests and the Iraqi people. We are not going to play in the hands of the Assad regime's interests. We do have the strength and strategies to dealing with the IS outrages.

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