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Gen. Dempsey: US Working on Plan to Defeat ISIS

Image: Gen. Dempsey: US Working on Plan to Defeat ISIS Members loyal to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) wave ISIL flags as they drive around Raqqa. (Stringer/Reuters/Landov)

By Melanie Batley   |   Friday, 25 Jul 2014 11:27 AM

The United States is drawing up a strategy to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq to prevent the group, which is linked to al-Qaida, from expanding as a global terrorist threat, said Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"The United States military does consider ISIL [ISIS] a threat to, initially to the region and our close allies, longer term to the United States of America," Dempsey said in a keynote speech to the annual Aspen Security Forum, according to The Washington Free Beacon.

"And therefore we are preparing a strategy that has a series of options to present to our elected leaders on how we can initially contain, eventually disrupt, and finally defeat ISIL over time."

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ISIS, an Islamic terrorist organization with an estimated membership of 7,000 fighters, is aiming to set up a Muslim caliphate. It has already violently taken control of a number of major cities in the northern and western regions of Iraq, and American officials have warned the group wants to use the area as a base of operations from which to launch terror attacks on Europe and the United States.

"This is a group that has aspirations and seeks a sense of religious legitimacy," the four-star general told the gathering of current and former military, intelligence, and national security officials.

Dempsey did not rule out the future use of American air attacks against ISIS if the group becomes a more direct threat to the United States, according to the Free Beacon, but said that ultimately to defeat ISIS would require "pressure from multiple directions and with multiple partners."

Specifically, he listed a stable government in Baghdad, and support from moderate Sunnis in the region to reject ISIS, including Turks and Kurds.

At the same time, he rejected any suggestion that the United States should cooperate with Iran against the organization on the basis that it was responsible for the killing of many Americans during the Iraq war.

"This isn't about us deciding that ISIL is the latest in a series of threats and taking it on unilaterally," he said.

Dempsey also said that military leaders have come to the conclusion that there was no reason to defend the regime of Iraqi President Nouri al Maliki due to the failure of its American-trained security forces to resist the ISIS incursion and its demonstration of a lack of unity for the cause, the Free Beacon reported.

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