WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama said Tuesday that he was looking for ways to scale up the battle against militants in Iraq and Syria ahead of a White House meeting with top U.S. military brass.
The planning session on combating the terror group was not expected to yield major shifts of strategy.
“We continue to take on their leadership, their financial networks, their infrastructure,” Obama said before conferring with combatant commanders and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The President cited coalition efforts to block the highway between two cities where ISIS has gained strongholds, Raqqa, Syria, and Mosul, Iraq: “We are going to squeeze them and we will defeat them.”
Before of the meeting, U.S. officials told CNN that one idea for ramping up the ISIS fight would be to send additional U.S. Special Operations forces into Syria, though the notion had not yet morphed into a full-blown option for consideration at the White House.
The U.S. has so far authorized up to 50 special operators to work in Syria training moderate rebel forces battling ISIS.
In Iraq, the United States must get permission from the government for action there, narrowing the options for major shifts in strategy.
Obama was expected to take several of the commanders’ thoughts on fighting ISIS under consideration after Tuesday’s meeting.
During his brief remarks before the session, Obama said he was intent on cutting off ISIS’ ability to coordinate attacks from its headquarters.
“We can no longer tolerate the kinds of positioning that is enabled by them having headquarters in Raqqa and Mosul. We’ve got to keep on putting the pressure on them,” he said.