President Obama is considering U.S. airstrikes in Syria against militants of the Islamic State, the White House said Friday.
“We’re not going to be restricted by borders,” said Ben Rhodes, a national security adviser to the president. “We’re actively considering what’s going to be necessary to deal with that threat.”
The bombing of targets in Syria would mark a significant expansion of Mr. Obama’s three-week-old air war against the Islamic State, which has been limited to targets of the militant group in northern Iraq. The U.S. has conducted nearly 100 airstrikes against the militants in Iraq since Aug. 8, and some lawmakers have warned the White House against “mission creep.”
But the administration has raised its rhetoric against the Islamic State this week after the terrorists executed American journalist James Foley and released a video of his beheading. The group is holding other American hostages, and a U.S. rescue mission in Syria failed last month.
Mr. Rhodes said the president “hasn’t … been presented with specific military options outside” of the current airstrikes in Iraq, but he indicated that going after the Islamic State in Syria is under consideration.
“We would certainly look at what is necessary in the long term to make sure we’re protecting Americans,” Mr. Rhodes said. “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. We’ve shown time and again that if there’s a counterterrorism threat, we’ll take direct action against that threat if necessary.”
Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren said the videotaped beheading of Mr. Foley “was a savage act of terrorism.”
“It stands out because [the Islamic State] is trying to further political goals and is using this beheading for political purposes,” Col. Warren said.