President Obama has decided not to directly confront Russia over its new air offensive in Syria, believing that President Vladimir Putin will soon find himself in a Syrian “quagmire,” but he has approved a new escalation of U.S. efforts against the Islamic State.
Obama laid out the U.S. response to Russia’s actions during a meeting with senior aides Thursday evening. Details were firmed up in a meeting Friday morning among national security principals at the White House, senior administration officials said.
At the same time, the president also approved proposals, made prior to this week’s Russian actions, to strengthen the U.S. fight against the militants. Those measures were recommended by Obama’s new Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr.
They include direct U.S. weapons shipments, overland from Iraq, to Syrian Kurdish and Arab fighters who in recent months have pushed the Islamic State from a major portion of northern Syria along the Turkish border.