Senior U.S. officials and diplomats said Wednesday that President Obama is looking for a new strategy to deal with the Islamic State group and the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria.
“The long running Syria problem is now compounded by the reality that to genuinely defeat ISIL, we need not only a defeat in Iraq but a defeat in Syria,” one government official told CNN on Wednesday.
The White House has held four meetings with its national security in the last week to figure out what sort of political transition would happen in Syria after the fall of the Assad regime, the network reported.
Multiple sources told CNN on condition of anonymity that the White House’s “Iraq first” plan will not work.
“Developments on the ground have caused the national security team to collectively conclude we may not have time for Iraq first. In an ideal world you would drive ISIL out of Iraq and pivot to Syria. But if by then the moderate opposition has been smacked and ISIL is still there, that doesn’t help,” a senior administration official told CNN.
Complicating matters for the Obama administration is the fact that the vetting of Syrian opposition fighters still hasn’t started — more than four months after the U.S.-led coalition’s objective was announced.
“The vetting hasn’t started. Once it does start, that will be about a three- to five-month process and then it’s about 8-9 months of training after that. So we still got a ways to go,” Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told CNN.
News of the changing strategy comes weeks after it was reported that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel sent a private memo to Susan Rice about serious reservations regarding Mr. Obama’s Syria strategy.
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