News / Middle East

    US: Military Force Not Only Tool to Confront Islamic State

    White House press secretary Josh Earnest took questions about ISIS, Iraq, and Syria during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, Aug. 25, 2014.
    White House press secretary Josh Earnest took questions about ISIS, Iraq, and Syria during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, Aug. 25, 2014.
    VOA News

    U.S. President Barack Obama has not yet made a decision to pursue military options in Syria against Islamic State extremists.

    White House spokesman Josh Earnest Monday said that while the U.S. was serious about confronting the Islamic State threat, military force was not the "only tool in the toolbox."

    He added that the only sustainable solution would require the active involvement of an effective and inclusive Iraqi government.

    Earnest said there was no evidence of an active plot under way by the Islamic State against the U.S. homeland.

    Earlier Monday, Syria said it was willing to work with the international community, including the U.S. and Britain, to fight the advance of Islamic State militants inside Syria, but it warned that any attacks should only be carried out in coordination with Damascus.

    The U.S. already is carrying out extensive airstrikes with fighter jets and drones against Islamic State fighters in northern Iraq. The attacks have helped Kurdish soldiers retake the key Mosul Dam that supplies electricity and irrigation to a large swath of Iraq.

    FILE - U.S. journalist James Foley, center, arrives in Tripoli after being released by the Libyan government, May 18, 2011.FILE - U.S. journalist James Foley, center, arrives in Tripoli after being released by the Libyan government, May 18, 2011.
    x
    FILE - U.S. journalist James Foley, center, arrives in Tripoli after being released by the Libyan government, May 18, 2011.
    FILE - U.S. journalist James Foley, center, arrives in Tripoli after being released by the Libyan government, May 18, 2011.

    Late last week, after an American journalist was beheaded by the militants, Washington said it was considering expanding its operations to attack Islamic State positions inside neighboring Syria.

    Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said Monday Syria was ready to help enforce a United Nations Security Council resolution approved earlier this month aimed at cutting funding and the flow of foreign fighters to the Islamic State and al-Qaida's Syrian affiliate, the al-Nusra Front.

    But there is no sign that Washington is easing its opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who has maintained power during a bloody three-year fight against insurgents, including Islamic State militants, seeking to overthrow him.

    Moallem said any unilateral action by the United States inside Syria "would be an act of aggression." In that event, he warned that Syria's air defenses could attempt to shoot down U.S. warplanes.

    Ambassador James Woolsey - former director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency during the Clinton administration and now the chairman of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, says that  "paying particular attention to one executioner is only of modest importance.”

    Woolsey said “It is a terrible thing that he did. It would be great to have intelligence about exactly where he is, and perhaps be able to let a predator fire a hellfire into his lap,” but he explained it is not a high strategic priority.

    The ambassador explained the United States was fighting a movement not an individual.

    An Islamic State militant uses a loud-hailer to announce to residents of Taqba city that Tabqa air base has fallen to Islamic State militants, in nearby Raqqa city, Aug. 24, 2014.An Islamic State militant uses a loud-hailer to announce to residents of Taqba city that Tabqa air base has fallen to Islamic State militants, in nearby Raqqa city, Aug. 24, 2014.
    x
    An Islamic State militant uses a loud-hailer to announce to residents of Taqba city that Tabqa air base has fallen to Islamic State militants, in nearby Raqqa city, Aug. 24, 2014.
    An Islamic State militant uses a loud-hailer to announce to residents of Taqba city that Tabqa air base has fallen to Islamic State militants, in nearby Raqqa city, Aug. 24, 2014.

    The Islamic State group has taken over much of eastern Syria and northern and western Iraq as it seeks to impose an Islamic caliphate without regard to national borders.

    The group's fighters have continued to advance, seizing territory from both armed opposition groups in Syria's northern Aleppo province and from the Syrian army in northern Raqqa province. On Sunday, the Islamic State took control of Tabqa air base, the last Syrian military outpost in Raqqa.

    Meanwhile, U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay accused the Islamic State of carrying out "widespread ethnic and religious cleansing," targeting people based on their ethnic, religious or sectarian affiliation.  She said such persecution amounted to crimes against humanity.

    You May Like

    Saudi Arabia’s New Female Politicians in the Other Room 

    Many in Saudi Arabia say elected representatives should share unsegregated spaces; according to a recent survey, more than half the Saudi population, both men and women, prefer to work in a segregated place

    Russia Not ‘Apologetic’ for Syria Airstrikes

    With Moscow criticized for targeting armed opponents of President Assad, Russia’s UN envoy says his country ‘acting in a very transparent manner’

    Pakistan Warns of Islamic State's Growing Reach

    Aftab Sultan, General Director General of Intelligence Bureau (IB), briefed Senate Committee in closed hearing, saying that IS-linked groups have been expanding in Pakistan

    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 Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.