Reports: Obama open to strikes in Syria

President Obama is reportedly open to ordering airstrikes against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) targets in Syria, in what would be a significant escalation of the military mission against the terror group.


A senior administration official told The New York Times that the president is prepared to authorize the bombing campaign, but that he is still grappling with questions about how to act without bolstering Syrian President Bashar Assad and how to bring regional partners, like Turkey and Saudi Arabia, into such an effort.

A U.S. official also confirmed that the president was open to conducting airstrikes to both CNN and ABC News. But it’s not clear that Obama will mention the possibility during his prime-time address on Wednesday, when he’s expected to outline his strategy against the terror group. Nor is it clear that Obama will definitely order such a strike.

That address will focus on three major areas, an official told CNN: framing the threat of ISIS, outlining Obama’s strategy to address the threat and debuting new proposals for how the U.S. could decimate the network. Obama will reportedly stress that defeating ISIS has become a “core national security priority.”

The White House would not confirm that the president’s thinking on airstrikes had shifted. Less than two weeks ago, Obama cautioned he did not “want to put the cart before the horse” and said of news reports indicating he was contemplating airstrikes in Syria, “that folks are getting a little further ahead of where we’re at than we currently are.”

But a White House official did say Tuesday that, in Obama’s Wednesday night address, the president would outline his “comprehensive strategy” for degrading and ultimately destroying ISIS. That will include U.S. “military action and support for the forces combating [ISIS] on the ground — both the opposition in Syria and a new, inclusive Iraqi government,” the official said.

"The president will discuss how we are building a coalition of allies and partners in the region and in the broader international community to support our efforts, and will talk about how we work with the Congress as a partner in these efforts."

On Tuesday, president Obama told congressional leaders he had the authority to carry out his planned strategy without an authorization vote. But, the White House said, the nation would be stronger if Congress endorses the president’s plan in some way.

"The president told the leaders that he would welcome action by the Congress that would aid the overall effort and demonstrate to the world that the United States is united in defeating the threat," the White House said.