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

Guatemala Mudslide Death Toll Rises to 86

Death toll is expected to continue to rise as emergency crews dig through tons of earth for an estimated 350 people still missing More

Debris Found in Search for Missing Ship

Objects located Sunday have not yet been confirmed to be from the 240 meter container ship, El Faro, which disappeared in the eye of Hurricane Joaquin, according to US Coast Guard More

Survivor: Gunman Spared 'Lucky One' to Give Police Message

Law enforcement official says a manifesto of several pages was recovered; contents not revealed More

This forum has been closed.
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.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs