President Obama on Thursday shunted aside speculation that he will soon expand the U.S. bombing campaign against Islamic extremists into Syria, saying the military mission for now will remain focused on Iraq.
“The options that I’m asking for from the Joint Chiefs focus primarily on making sure ISIL is not overrunning Iraq,” Obama said at the White House on Thursday afternoon, referring to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, also known as the Islamic State.
Obama said fighting ISIL in its stronghold inside Syria is a mission that the U.S. will expect partners — potentially including Muslim countries in the Middle East — to contribute to.
“In order for us to degrade ISIL over the long term, we are going to have to build a regional strategy. We are not going to do that alone. We are going to do that with partners,” Obama said, adding that Secretary of State John Kerry will soon travel to the Middle East to forge a coalition.