President Obama pushed back against media reports of planned U.S. military action against ISIS in Syria on Thursday, stressing that the administration is still determining the next steps to take in the region.
“We don’t have a strategy yet,” Obama said at a Thursday press conference, adding that there would be “military, political, and economic components” to the fight against ISIS.
He continued: “The suggestion seems to be, we’re about to go full scale on an elaborate strategy for defeating [ISIS]. The suggestion has been we’re start moving forward imminently and somehow Congress, still out of town, is going to be in the dark. That’s not what’s going to happen.”
There’s been growing speculation that the White House is poised to extend airstrikes that the U.S. has launched against ISIS in Iraq into Syria, having sent surveillance planes into Syria earlier this week.
Obama stressed such speculation was premature, and that the White House is planning to consult with Congress once its hammered out its plan. “It will be important for Congress to know what that is, in part because it may cost some money,” Obama said. He added the U.S. strategy towards [ISIS] will require “strong regional partners” and floated the possibility of forming an international coalition to support the U.S. airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq.
Remarking on the escalating tensions and fighting in Ukraine, the president also said U.S. military action against Russia was not “in the cards,” though he reaffirmed the strength of America’s NATO treaty obligation to protect fellow members. Ukraine is not in NATO, but some of its neighbors are members, including Estonia, which Obama will visit next week.Obama also refrained from calling Russia’s latest military incursion into Ukraine an “invasion,” as the Ukrainian government has described the reported arrival of Russian troops and heavy artillery. “I consider it … a continuation of what’s been happening for months now,” he said. The next NATO summit will take place in Wales next week.
The president said the administration is still reviewing options for further executive action on immigration, floating the possibility of sending more immigration judges to deal with the influx of migrant children at the border. “In the absence of congressional action, I’m going to do what I can to make sure the system works better,” he said.