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.

You May Like

Photogallery Strong Words Start, May End, S. African Xenophobic Attacks

President Jacob Zuma publicly condemned rise in attacks on foreign nationals but critics say leadership has been less than welcoming to foreign residents More

Video Family Waits to Hear Charges Against Reporter Jailed in Iran

Reports in Iran say Jason Rezaian has been charged with espionage, but brother tells VOA indictment has not been made public More

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Action to Stabilize Libya

Amnesty International says multinational concerted humanitarian effort must be enacted to address crisis; decrepit boats continue to bring thousands of new arrivals daily More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
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.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs