In the wake of American journalist James Foley's execution at the hands of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, a senior White House official said the United States is "not going to be restricted by borders" in its fight against the extremist group. Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser, spoke on Friday from Martha's Vineyard, where President Barack Obama is on vacation, The Associated Press notes.
Rhodes described Foley's killing as "an attack on our country," and said the Obama administration was "actively considering what's going to be necessary to deal with that threat."
Politicians from both sides of the aisle have pointed out that any attempts to defeat ISIS will require operations in Syria, which neighbors Iraq. The concern is that even if the U.S. airstrikes against the Islamic extremist group weaken their holdings in parts of Iraq, they will be able to move back to strongholds in Syria, regroup, then move forward again.
"Can they be defeated without addressing that part of their organization which resides in Syria?" Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, asked on Thursday. "The answer is no…That (sanctuary) will have to be addressed on both sides of what is essentially at this point a nonexistent border."
The discussion comes at the same time as the United Nations' human rights office released a new report on the death toll in Syria's ongoing civil war — which the U.N. says has doubled to more than 191,000 in the past year. Navi Pillay, the U.N.'s human rights high commissioner, criticized Western nations for their lack of intervention in the conflict, saying it has "empowered and emboldened" fighters.