The United States has "not contained" the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the nation's top military officer said Tuesday, contradicting President Obama's remarks last month about the terror group.
"We have not contained" ISIS, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told lawmakers at a House Armed Services Committee hearing.
"I don't think they're gaining strength. What is true is that from the start, our goal has been first to contain, and we have contained them," Obama told ABC News.
Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for strategic communication, later said the president's remarks applied specifically to Iraq and Syria.
Dunford said ISIS has been "tactically" contained in areas they have been since 2010 but added, "Strategically they have spread since 2010."
His remarks were in response to questioning by Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) on whether ISIS has been contained at any time since 2010.
Dunford added that ISIS posed a threat beyond Iraq and Syria to countries such as Egypt, Nigeria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon and Jordan.
Forbes also got Dunford to disagree with Defense Secretary Ash Carter, who testified alongside him.
Carter had declared during his opening statement that "we're at war" with ISIS.
Forbes pressed Dunford whether the U.S. was at war with ISIS, and who declared that war.
"We are technically not at war," Dunford replied.
An academic report released Tuesday said that American support for radical Islamism has reached “unprecedented” levels.
“What we do see in the United States is an unprecedented mobilization” that is “bigger than any other mobilization we have seen since 9/11,” Lorenzo Vidino, the director of George Washington University’s program on extremism, said during an event releasing the report.
The report found that the types of Americans drawn to ISIS vary widely in terms of race, age, education and family background. Yet they are largely all united by their use of social media, which ISIS has been able to master as its reach has grown.
FBI Director James Comey has said that federal officials have launched ISIS-related investigations in all 50 states.
Obama, who is in Paris for talks on an international climate change agreement, has also used the trip to meet with world leaders about the threat from ISIS.
- Updated at 1:57 p.m.