DAMASCUS/WASHINGTON Aug. 28 (Xinhua) -- Islamic State (IS) militants killed more than 160 Syrian soldiers in Syria, according to online video footage published on Thursday, while U.S. President Barack Obama said his country has not developed a strategy in combating the Islamic group.
The militants captured the Syrian soldiers in the al-Tabaqa airbase in northern province of al-Raqqa on Sunday after they had seized the facility through intense battles.
The airbase was the last standing stronghold for the Syrian troops in al-Raqqa, which has largely fallen to the IS fighters since a year ago.
Other activists placed the number of the slain soldiers at 250.
Besides, Syria's rebel group, the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, kidnapped 43 UN peacekeepers on the Syrian side of the al-Qunaitera border crossing with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the rebels had previously carried out such kidnapping against the UNDOF peacekeepers, referring to last year's incident when the radical rebels kidnapped 21 peacekeepers in al-Qunaitera and later released them under international mediation.
The surge in the radical rebels' operations came just days after the UN Security Council adopted a resolution, allowing actions to put an end to the threats of the Nusra Front and the IS militants.
Also on Thursday, Obama acknowledged that a decision had not been made on whether to launch airstrikes against the IS militants in Syria, but he has asked his administration to prepare a range of military options.
At a White House press conference, Obama said he has ordered Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to prepare "a range of options" as he considers future military action.
Earlier this week, the president approved military surveillance flights over Syria, but air strikes have not been authorized.
Obama's decision has triggered speculation that he was on the verge of expanding the fight against IS from Iraq into Syria.
Though Obama shied away from launching air strikes in Syria a year ago, public anger over the beheading of American journalist James Foley has made him consider military strikes against Islamic State targets in Syria.
"The options that I'm asking for from the Joint Chiefs focus primarily on making sure that IS is not overrunning Iraq," he said.
"Our focus right now is to protect American personnel on the ground in Iraq, to protect our embassy, to protect our consulates, to make sure that critical infrastructure that could adversely affect our personnel is protected," he said.
Since early this month, U.S. military planes have carried out over 100 airstrikes in Iraq.
Obama said that he would be meeting later Thursday with the National Security to continue to develop that strategy, and that he has dispatched Secretary of State John Kerry to the area to work with U.S. allies to help create an anti-Islamic State coalition.
"As I've said, rooting out a cancer like IS will not be quick or easy, but I'm confident that we can and we will, working closely with our allies and our partners," he said.
The president also promised that he would consult Congress, denying reports that have suggested he is on the brink of an elaborate strategy for defeating the group without consulting Congress.
"I don't want to put the cart before the horse. We don't have a strategy yet. Some of the news reports suggests that folks are getting a little further ahead of where we're at than we currently are," he said.
WASHINGTON, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama said on Thursday he has asked his administration to prepare a range of military options against the Islamic State (IS) forces in Iraq and Syria. Full story
WASHINGTON, Aug. 26 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama cautioned on Tuesday that wiping out a radical group like the Islamic State will not be easy and quick.
The president made the comment as he has authorized surveillance flights over Syria, a move seen as a precursor to stepped-up U.S. efforts in the war-torn country to combat the Islamic State, including possible airstrikes on its targets. Full story
WASHINGTON, Aug. 26 (Xinhua) -- The United States is worried about a possible future attack from the Islamic State terror group, but it remains unclear just how much of a threat the radicals pose to the country.
The group has in recent weeks been on the move in Iraq, overrunning vast swaths of territory in the country's north as the militants go on a killing spree. While Kurdish fighters backed by U.S. air power have had some successes against the Islamic radicals, they remain unchecked in neighboring Syria as the United States gears up to hit the radicals in that country as well. Full story
WASHINGTON, Aug. 26 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama has approved surveillance flights over Syria amid debates including over whether to conduct airstrikes on Islamic State (IS) targets inside the war-torn country, local media reported Tuesday.
The Pentagon said the flights will use a combination of aircraft, including drones and possibly U2 spy planes, and focus on the border between Iraq and Syria, which has almost been erased now by the IS in its rapid advance. Full story