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Obama Administration: US Troops Not ‘Answer’ to Crippling Islamic State

Barack Obama
President Barack Obama speaks about Afghanistan, Thursday, Oct. 15 / AP
• November 16, 2015 10:28 am

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President Obama does not believe that sending substantially more U.S. troops to fight the Islamic State in the Middle East is the "answer" to disabling the terror group, a senior official said Sunday.

The New York Times reported:

Senior administration officials said Mr. Obama is looking to do more of what he has already been doing and to do it better. The possibilities, they said, include more airstrikes, Special Operations raids, assistance to local allies and attacks against Islamic State targets outside Syria and Iraq, like the strike in Libya over the weekend. "We don’t believe U.S. troops are the answer to the problem," Benjamin J. Rhodes, the president’s deputy national security adviser, told reporters on Sunday at the Group of 20 meetings here in Turkey, where Mr. Obama consulted with other world leaders. "The further introduction of U.S. troops to fully re-engage in ground combat in the Middle East is not the way to deal with this challenge."

World leaders gathered at the G-20 summit in Turkey just days after coordinated gun attacks and suicide bombings in Paris killed at least 129 people and wounded upwards of 350. France launched airstrikes on Islamic State targets in the terror group’s stronghold in Raqqa, Syria, Sunday after the group claimed responsibility for the attacks.

White House officials also said at the summit that Obama agreed with French President François Hollande in his characterization of the Paris attacks as "an act of war."

In the wake of the Paris attacks, Obama has directed U.S. intelligence agencies to change their assessment of IS. One day before the shootings and bombings in France, Obama said that IS had been contained to Iraq and Syria.

"What is true is that from the start our goal has been first to contain, and we have contained them," the president told ABC on Thursday. "You don’t see this systematic march by [Islamic State] across the terrain."

"This was a game changer," an anonymous senior intelligence official stated after the Paris attacks. "We have to look hard at what happened in Paris, at the trajectory of the group and the potential threat it poses to the entire international community."

"This clearly shows ISIS is looking at an international level and is capable of carrying out large-scale attacks outside Iraq and Syria," the official continued. "There will be a greater sense of urgency in how we go about trying to combat these kinds of attacks. Paris shows that they can attack soft targets on any day, anywhere, including in any major American city."

On Monday, the Islamic State released a video, which has yet to be officially verified, that threatens attacks on other countries taking part in airstrikes in Syria, including the United States and specifically its capital, Washington, D.C.

Published under: Barack Obama, Terrorism