EDGARTOWN, Mass. — A top national security adviser to President Obama vowed Friday that the United States would “do what is necessary” in Syria to protect American interests and said that direct military action was possible against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, known as ISIS.
Benjamin J. Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser, said ISIS had become an increased threat to the United States, a threat the American government was taking seriously.
“If you come against Americans, we are going to come after you,” Mr. Rhodes said.
He declined to say whether the president was considering expanding airstrikes to include ISIS targets in Syria as well as in Iraq, where raids began this month. “We’re actively considering what’s going to be necessary in dealing with that threat,” Mr. Rhodes said. “We’re not going to be restricted by borders.”
On Thursday, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that the only way to defeat ISIS was for the United States or its allies to take the fight to the militants inside Syria. “This is an organization that has an apocalyptic end-of-days strategic vision that will eventually have to be defeated,” Mr. Dempsey told reporters. “Can they be defeated without addressing that part of the organization that resides in Syria? The answer is no.”
Mr. Rhodes, speaking to reporters on Martha’s Vineyard, where the president is vacationing, said repeatedly on Friday that the administration would do what was necessary in Syria to protect American interests, using language similar to Mr. Obama’s when he announced the airstrikes in Iraq.
“I think the American people understand that this president is very deliberate about military action,” Mr. Rhodes said. “The American people also understand that there are some threats that have to be dealt with.”
Mr. Rhodes declined to say whether the administration would have to seek additional legal authority to conduct airstrikes or other military action inside Syria. He promised that the president and his staff would consult with Congress as the White House considers further military action.
“We will take whatever action is necessary to protect our people,” Mr. Rhodes said. “We will take direct action against terrorists that threaten the United States.” (NY Times)