President Barack Obama played down the prospect of imminent U.S. military action in Syria on Thursday, saying “we don’t have a strategy yet” for degrading the violent militant group seeking to establish a caliphate in the Middle East.
The president spoke shortly before convening a meeting of his national security advisers on a range of Pentagon options for confronting the Islamic State group. However, he said his strategy would require more than military action and called for a regional strategy that includes political support from other countries in the region.
In blunt terms, the president said it was time for Middle Eastern nations to “stop being ambivalent” about the aims of extremist groups like the Islamic State.
“They have no ideology beyond violence and chaos and the slaughter of innocent people,” Obama said, alluding to the group’s announcement last week that it had killed American journalist James Foley. The militants also have threatened to kill other U.S. hostages.
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