Aug. 27 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama is seeking support of allies in the Middle East and elsewhere before deciding whether to take any military action against Islamic State targets in Syria.
“The American military has tremendous capabilities that can influence these kinds of situations,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters yesterday. “But for a sustainable solution we’re going to need effective partners both in the form of effective governments where these actions are taking place, but also the constructive contribution of other regional governments that have a clear interest and a vested stake in the outcome.”
Obama hasn’t made any decision whether to expand the U.S. fight against the militant group in Iraq into neighboring Syria, Earnest said. A Defense Department official, who wasn’t authorized to discuss the plans, said yesterday the White House had approved a surveillance operation over Syria. The Associated Press, citing a U.S. official that it didn’t identify, said the flights have begun.
Earnest said U.S. officials were seeking partners to confront the Islamic State threat, both in Iraq and Syria. That will depend on “the constructive contribution of other governments in the region.” He didn’t detail which governments were being recruited.
The New York Times reported that a campaign to recruit a coalition of allies and nations in the region is under way. The newspaper quoted unnamed officials as saying the countries likely to be included are Australia, Britain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.
After more than two months of territorial gains in Iraq, Islamic State made its latest breakthrough over the weekend in Syria, seizing an air base and dislodging President Bashar al- Assad’s government forces from their last stronghold in the northeastern Raqqa province. That prompted the Syrian government, which almost became the target of U.S. military action a year ago, to call for a joint effort against the Islamist threat, while warning the U.S. against taking unilateral action.