Top General Says ISIS Cannot Be Defeated Without Striking Syria

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Aug. 21 2014 8:29 PM

Top General Says ISIS Cannot Be Defeated Without Striking Syria

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General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages

Can ISIS be defeated? Not without striking Syria, according to General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

From the New York Times:

“This is an organization that has an apocalyptic end-of-days strategic vision that will eventually have to be defeated,” the chairman, Gen. Martin Dempsey, said in his most expansive public remarks on the crisis since American airstrikes began in Iraq. “Can they be defeated without addressing that part of the organization that resides in Syria? The answer is no.”
But both General Dempsey and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who appeared beside him during a Pentagon news conference, deflected questions about whether the United States military would pursue the Sunni militants from Iraq into Syria, an issue that many defense experts say lies at the heart any attempt to defeat ISIS.
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Earlier on Thursday, the United States resumed its airstrikes against ISIS in northern Iraq. U.S. Central Command has conducted a total of 90 airstrikes since President Obama ordered targeted strikes earlier this month. That the militants who executed James Foley implied they would do the same to another war correspondent, Steven Sotloff, if the airstrikes did not cease seems not to have deterred Obama: The U.S. military announced 14 more airstrikes in northern Iraq one day after footage of Foley's murder was released.

Emily Tamkin is an editorial intern at Slate and a M.Phil. candidate in Russian and East European studies at Oxford. Follow her on Twitter.  

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