Official: ‘Stay tuned’ for Obama’s ISIS strategy

A senior State Department official urged critics of President Obama to “stay tuned” for the administration’s plans against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

"We are putting the features in place, developing a broader regional coalition, a broad international coalition, working to get a new Iraqi government stood up, working to get our plans in place," Brett McGurk, the deputy assistant Secretary of State for Iraq and Iran, told CNN. "So stay tuned."


During a press conference last week, Obama conceded that "we don't have a strategy yet" to counter Islamist militants operating in Syria.

The remark drew bipartisan criticism, with lawmakers calling on the president to present a plan for expanded military strikes against members of ISIS.

Those calls intensified following the release of an ISIS video showing the apparent killing of U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff on Tuesday, with Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) saying he would introduce legislation authorizing military strikes against the group.

McGurk said that the U.S. military could not "just go in militarily and start dropping bombs and hope that it's going to work out" and called such a go-it-alone mission "counterproductive."

"You have to have a very sophisticated approach to this," McGurk said.

The State Department spokesman added he did not want to suggest that "we're sitting idle" while building "a broader campaign plan that will develop over the days and weeks ahead."

"There have been over 100 airstrikes in Iraq over the last few weeks and those orders very much remain in place," McGurk said. "We are over the skies of Iraq. We are actually watching what ISIS is doing and we are taking targets as they become available within the missions that the president thus far has authorized."

McGurk also expressed confidence that the U.S. and its allies would ultimately be able to defeat the terror network, noting that campaigns against ISIS’s predecessors in northern Iraq had proven successful.

"We know this enemy," McGurk said. "We've fought this enemy. We defeated this enemy. We know a lot about it. And we are now going to take all that information there to work with the Iraqis to begin to roll this back."