Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Menendez, on Tv, Hints at Strategy in Fight against Isis

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Menendez, on Tv, Hints at Strategy in Fight against Isis

Article excerpt

The United States is "clearly headed toward a strategy that will defeat" the Islamic State forces that have seized parts of Syria and Iraq, Sen. Bob Menendez said Sunday.

Appearing on the "Fox News Sunday" program, Menendez said the strategy will rely on air and drone strikes, Iraqi and Kurdish troops, and support -- including intelligence and efforts to cut off funding of the Islamic State by NATO nations, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

He also said the U.S. needs to "robustly help moderate, vetted rebels" in Syria, a step he has pressed President Obama's administration to take for much of this year.

"I do see that coming together," said Menendez, a Democrat from Paramus and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.

The U.S. military said Sunday it launched airstrikes against Islamic State insurgents who were trying to seize the Haditha Dam in western Iraq. Obama is scheduled to address the nation about the issue Wednesday, the eve of the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Asked about Americans who are fighting for the Islamic State, Menendez said the U.S. needed to be vigilant to ensure that no one tries to return to carry out domestic attacks. He then pivoted to the argument that military action in Iraq and Syria provides homeland defense.

"ISIS is a savage terrorist organization that has to be defeated before they can create the operational wherewithal to conduct a Sept. 11-like tragedy," he said.

On Ukraine, Menendez said he was "absolutely not" satisfied with a cease-fire that leaves separatists backed by Russia in control of territory.

In an interview with The Record from the Ukrainian capital of Kiev last week, Menendez went further than the Obama administration has been willing to go, saying Russia had invaded a sovereign nation and the world needed to respond with tougher economic sanctions and weapons or Russian President Vladimir Putin would be emboldened to move against other former Soviet bloc nations. …

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