US underestimated IS threat - Obama

BY TAI CHISHAKWE - SEPTEMBER 29, 2014

In an interview with the CBS TV programme 60 Minutes, US President Barack Obama acknowledged that his country may have underestimated the threat posed by the now-called Islamic State (IS) and Islamist insurgency in Syria.

He said Syria had become a "ground zero" for militants who took advantage of the chaos there.

"During the chaos of the Syrian civil war, where essentially you have huge swathes of the country completely ungoverned, they were able to reconstitute themselves and take advantage of that chaos and attract foreign fighters... who believed in their jihadist nonsense," he said.

He reiterated that only part of the solution to defeating them would be military and that a political solution was also necessary.

A US-led coalition of Arab and Western states has begun an air campaign to help counter Islamic State (IS), striking targets in Iraq and Syria.

Iraq has remained unstable since the departure of US troops, with the Sunni population largely alienated by the former Shia-led government. Syria has been engulfed in a civil war since 2011.

Over the weekend, US-led coalition aircraft targeted four makeshift oil refineries under IS control in Syria, as well as a command centre.

US Central Command said that early indications were that the attacks by US, Saudi and UAE planes were successful.

Photo caption: MAY HAVE UNDERESTIMATED JIHADISTS IN SYRIA... US President, Barack Obama.