White House deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes claimed President Obama won’t “be restricted by borders” while seeking to defeat ISIS terrorists in both Syria and Iraq — strongly suggesting that the U.S. aerial campaign already underway in Iraq will move into Syria.
Rhodes spoke to the press on Friday from Martha’s Vineyard, where Obama remains on vacation during an escalating American campaign against Islamic fundamentalist targets in Iraq.
The ultra-violent terrorist group originally entered Iraq from its war-torn neighbor Syria, and its strongest presence and base of operations remains inside that shattered nation’s borders.
“Has the president signed off on airstrikes against [ISIS] in Syria?” one reporter asked Rhodes.
“Well, I don’t want to get ahead of decisions,” he replied. “The president hasn’t been presented with specific military options outside of those that are carrying out the current missions in Iraq. But we would certainly look at what is necessary in the long term to make sure we’re protecting Americans.”
“So it’s fair to say you’re actively considering airstrikes against [ISIS] targets in Syria?” the reporter pressed.
“Well again, you heard the president say that we will be relentless against [ISIS],” Rhodes replied. “And we will do what’s necessary to protect Americans and see that justice is done for what we saw with the barbaric killing of Jim Foley.”
“So we’re actively considering what’s going to be necessary to deal with that threat, and we’re not going to be restricted by borders,” he asserted. “We’ve shown time and again that if there is a counterterrorism threat, we’ll take direct action against that threat, if necessary.”
Rhodes also stressed that “boots on the ground” would be required to defeat ISIS — specifying Iraqi and Kurdish boots in Iraqi and moderate Syrian rebel forces inside Syria.
But after fighting against both the brutal dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad and the savage fundamentalist theocracy of ISIS, moderate rebels have been decimated and largely sidelined in the ongoing Syrian civil war.
The only “boots on the ground” most experts believe capable of confronting ISIS within Syria is the Syrian military — a force President Obama was threatening to bomb just one year ago.