Secretary of Defense says more than 100 Americans fighting with Islamic State
“We are aware of over 100 U.S. citizens who have U.S. passports who are fighting in the Middle East with ISIL forces,” Hagel told CNN, using the U.S. government’s preferred acronym for the Islamic State. “There may be more. We don’t know.”
“Those who make the mistake of harming Americans will learn that we will not forget ... that our reach is long and that justice will be served,” Obama told reporters in the Estonian capital of Tallinn.
In the videos released by the Islamic State, the black-shrouded figures who beheaded Foley and Sotloff spoke with a British accent. About 500 Brits are believed to be fighting with the group, along with hundreds more from France, Russia and other European countries.
Hagel made his remarks during an interview at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, R.I. He said extending the bombing campaign to Syria, the terror group’s hub, is among a number of military options he and other national security leaders are considering, though he ruled out sending U.S. combat troops to the region.
Hagel urged Congress to approve Obama’s request for $500 million to equip and train moderate Syrian rebels who are combating both the Islamic State fighters and Syrian forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad.
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