In a Pentagon briefing today, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said US airstrikes have helped Iraqi and Kurdish forces regain their footing in Iraq, but he expects Islamic State militants will regroup and stage a new offensive. Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey said it's possible to contain the Islamic State militants, but it can't be done permanently without going after the group in Syria. Speaking to reporters with Hagel, Dempsey said he wasn't predicting US airstrikes in Syria, but said the problem must be addressed diplomatically, politically, and militarily by America and its regional partners.
Asked to compare ISIS with al-Qaeda, Hagel said the militant group that's been battling for ground in northern Iraq is "beyond anything we've seen" and is not "just a terrorist group," reports NBC News. "They marry an ideology with a sophistication of strategy and military prowess" that "represents a whole new paradigm of threats to this country." Hagel said all options were on the table, including airstrikes into Syria. The US has restricted its military action to Iraq, but concerns have increased as the Islamic militant group extends its reach and work from safe havens in Syria. (Read more Islamic State stories.)