House Speaker John Boehner told ABC News on Sunday “somebody’s boots have to be on the ground” in Iraq and Syria to defeat ISIS, also known as the Islamic State.
“At the end of the day, I think it’s gonna take more than airstrikes to drive them outta there,” the Ohio Republican said. “At some point somebody’s boots have to be on the ground.”
He criticized Obama for saying he would not send ground troops. “If I were the president, I probably wouldn’t have talked about what I wouldn’t do. And maybe we can get enough of these forces trained to get ‘em on the battlefield. But somebody’s boots have to be there.”
Boehner rationalized sending ground troops into the fray by characterizing ISIS as barbarians.
“We have no choice,” he said. “These are barbarians. They intend to kill us. And if we don’t destroy them first, we’re gonna pay the price.”
Al-Nusra Promises Terror Attacks in Response to Air Strikes
On Saturday, the ISIS aligned group al-Nusra promised to strike countries participating in air strikes in Syria and Iraq.
Abu Firas al-Suri, a spokesman for al-Nusra, said the air strikes represent “a war against Islam” and vowed to retaliate.
“These states have committed a horrible act that is going to put them on the list of jihadist targets throughout the world.”
“This is not a war against al-Nusra, but a war against Islam,” al-Suri said.
The group has gone into hiding in response to the air strikes, according to media reports.
“Since the [US-led] attacks began Nusra has been scattering its fighters and the ammunition it has been stockpiling over the last months,” said a field commander of a “moderate” rebel faction involved in operations on Syria’s southern front, according to The National.
No-Fly Zone Proposed in Syria
Last week the Obama administration floated the idea ofd establishing a no-fly zone in Syria “to protect civilians from airstrikes by the Syrian government,” according to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
If established, a no-fly zone would necessitate attacking Syria directly and taking out its air defense system.
Disabling Syria’s air force would also cripple its ability to effective deter “rebels” attempting to overthrow the government of Bashar al-Assad in Damascus.