Is the U.S. military expanding the fight against ISIS beyond Iraq and Syria? From what Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Wednesday, the answer to that question sounds more like yes than no.
Carter's counter-ISIS speech at Fort Campbell seemed to point to the U.S. military expanding efforts to target Islamic State militants beyond the group's territory in Iraq and Syria, potentially involving airstrikes and raids in other Islamic countries.
Here's what Defense Secretary Carter said during that speech.
The threat posed by ISIL, and groups like it, is continually evolving, changing focus and shifting location.
That’s why the Defense Department is organizing a new way to leverage the security infrastructure we’ve already established in Afghanistan, the Middle East, East Africa, and southern Europe into a network to counter transnational and transregional threats like ISIL.
They help us act decisively to prevent ISIL affiliates from becoming as great of a threat as the parent tumor itself.
What about the U.S. military's authority to strike ISIS outside of Iraq and Syria? The Obama administration says it doesn't need any new authority from Congress as prior laws passed after 2001 clear the way for U.S. troops and aircraft to strike at Islamic State targets in many countries.
“We have made it clear that those who threaten or incite harm to Americans, wherever they are, will surely come to feel the long arm and the hard fist of justice,” Carter said.
During his Fort Campbell speech, Carter pointed out a couple of examples of the U.S. already targeting ISIS members in other countries besides Iraq and Syria.
For example, Carter pointed to a U.S. airstrike in Libya in November that killed a man known as Abu Nabil, an Iraqi national who was a senior Islamic State leader in Libya.
The U.S. has also begun targeting some Islamic State militants in Afghanistan.
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