The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has said that he would not recommend U.S. military airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria until he determines that they have become a direct threat to the U.S.
Gen. Martin Dempsey, speaking to reporters on board a military plane traveling to Afghanistan, said Sunday that he believes the Sunni insurgent group formerly known as ISIS is more of a regional threat and is not currently plotting or planning attacks against the U.S. or Europe.
ISIS has repeatedly made threats to attack the U.S. through social and conventional media. Earlier this month, in a Vice News documentary, a spokesman for the group vowed to “raise the flag of Allah in the White House.” The group took over Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, in June, and has since declared an Islamic state, or caliphate, in a swath of territory covering northeastern Syria and northern and western Iraq. U.S. airstrikes and a new policy of direct military aid to Kurdish Peshmerga fighters have served as a check on a threatened ISIS advance toward Kurdish territory in northern Iraq.
On Sunday, Dempsey contrasted ISIS to the Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which has plotted and attempted attacks against the U.S. and Europe. As a result, the U.S. has conducted counterterrorism strikes against the group within Yemen.