Obama: US Misjudged IS Threat

Obama: US Misjudged IS ThreatObama: US Misjudged IS Threat

A week after US-led airstrikes in Syria began, lawmakers continued to question President Barack Obama’s strategy for defeating the militant group Islamic State (IS), which he admitted in a televised interview was more powerful than the US initially believed, CNN reported.

Echoing sentiments also expressed by James Clapper, the head of US intelligence services, Obama said the government “underestimated what had been taking place in Syria” during its civil war, allowing Syria to become “ground zero for jihadists around the world.”

Speaking in a taped interview, Obama said the terrorists were remnants of al Qaeda in Iraq, which after being diminished by US forces “went back underground.”

“Over the past couple of years, during the chaos of the Syrian civil war, where essentially you have huge swaths of the country that are completely ungoverned, they were able to reconstitute themselves and take advantage of that chaos,” Obama said, adding later the US also overrated Iraq’s security forces, which were quickly overrun by IS when it took over the northern city of Mosul this summer.

The President stressed that the issue in Iraq is not simply a military problem; it’s a political one.

An air campaign, which began last week and included coalition support from five Arab nations, continued over the weekend with strikes on the northern Syrian city of Ayn al-Arab, where Kurdish forces have been battling IS.

The mission is meant to “degrade and ultimately destroy” IS, Obama says. The White House has remained adamant there won’t be any US combat forces deployed in Iraq or Syria, though military “advisers” have been sent to Iraq in the hopes of fortifying local security forces.

The President warned the campaign probably won’t conclude any time soon.