President Barack Obama is acknowledging that the U.S.-led military campaign against the Islamic State group and al-Qaida’s affiliate in Syria is helping Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, a man the United Nations has accused of war crimes.
“I recognize the contradiction,” Obama said in an interview aired Sunday on CBS’ “60 Minutes.” ”We are not going to stabilize Syria under the rule of Assad,” whose government has committed “terrible atrocities,” Obama said.
But Obama said he had no choice but to order U.S. air strikes on Assad’s enemies, the Islamic State and the Khorasan Group because, he said, “those folks could kill Americans.”The Islamic State group, which derived from but has broken with al-Qaida, has taken control of large sections of Iraq and Syria. The Khorasan Group is a cell of militants that the U.S. says is plotting attacks against the West in cooperation with the Nusra front, Syria’s al-Qaida affiliate.
Both groups have been targeted by U.S. airstrikes in recent days; together they constitute the most significant military opposition to Assad, whose government the U.S. would like to see gone.