Top Dem: Eliminate ISIS 'sanctuary' in Iraq, Syria

Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffStone rails against US justice system in first TV interview since Trump commuted his sentence Overnight Defense: US formally rejects Beijing's South China Sea claims | House set to consider defense policy bill next week | 57 injured as firefighters battle warship blaze Sunday shows - Spotlight shifts to reopening schools MORE (D-Calif.) says defeating the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) will require recapturing their territory in the Middle East.

“Ultimately, it is going to require us to eliminate that sanctuary in Iraq and Syria,” Schiff, the top Dem on the House Intelligence Committee, told NPR host Steve Inskeep on “Morning Edition” on Monday. “As long as that sanctuary exists for ISIS, they will continue to attack us.

“The longer they hold ground the longer we’re at risk,” he added. "Something is going to have to change the dynamic.


“I don’t think the airstrikes alone or the small numbers of so-called moderate Syrian rebels are going to be enough to evaporate this scourge in these countries in a reasonable period of time.”

But Schiff said U.S. boots on the ground were not an option.

“I don’t think the answer is another massive American ground presence in either Iraq or Syria,” he said.

“I do think we’re going to have to explore things we didn’t want to embark upon such as a buffer zone or safe zone which allows the opposition to ISIS to be trained and equipped.”

Schiff’s remarks follow last week’s massacre of about 130 people in coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris. ISIS has claimed responsibility, and a new video threatens attacks on Washington, D.C.

Schiff said the attacks show how the group's strategy is evolving.

“I think in their first year of existence they were really concentrated on forming their caliphate, building their caliphate and defending their caliphate,” he said. "In their second year, they are very much opening up a second front in their war against the West.

“They are lashing out at anyone who attacks them,” he added. "Clearly, they are trying to bring their fight to other countries around the world.”

French fighter jets began pounding ISIS’s stronghold of Raqqa, Syria, on Sunday as punishment for last week’s violence.

President Obama announced Monday that using ground troops against the extremist group would be “a mistake” for the U.S. military.

Critics say the president is underestimating the threat from the group.