WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says U.S. airstrikes have helped Iraqi and Kurdish forces regain their footing in Iraq, but he expects Islamic State militants will regroup and stage a new offensive.
The Islamic State "clearly poses a long-term threat," Hagel said in a Pentagon briefing Thursday, saying the group poses a threat "beyond anything we've seen."
Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey says it's possible to contain the Islamic State militants, but it can't be done permanently without going after the group in Syria. Speaking to reporters with Hagel, Dempsey said he wasn't predicting U.S. airstrikes in Syria, but said the problem must be addressed diplomatically, politically and militarily by America and its regional partners.
"This is an organization that has an apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision that will eventually have to be defeated," Dempsey said Thursday. "Can they be defeated without addressing that part of the organization that resides in Syria? The answer is no."
Hagel said all options were on the table, including airstrikes into Syria.
The U.S. has restricted its military action to Iraq, but concerns have increased as the Islamic militant group extends its reach and work from safe havens in Syria.