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Retired General: Pursue ISIS In Syria

August 22, 2014, 4:55 PM by Perry Groten

Retired General: Pursue ISIS In Syria

The beheading of an American journalist is raising new concerns about how big of a danger the Islamic militant group ISIS poses to the United States. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says ISIS is an imminent threat to U-S interests around the globe. But does that mean that the militants launching attacks in Iraq will set their sights on our shores?

Retired Major General Lynn Hartsell served two tours in Iraq during Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield. He says the United States should not take any military options off the table when it comes to dealing with ISIS. And that includes boots on the ground.

Battle-hardened ISIS fighters have the funding and the military savvy to rival America's longtime arch enemy, al Qaeda.

"ISIS itself is probably the most formidable, and I would call them an army, not a terrorist group, part of the Islamic radicals," Hartsell said.

Lynn Hartsell says the US needs to expand its fight against ISIS to include strikes in Syria, where the movement has its roots.

"If all you do is attack them in Iraq, they can simply go back to Syria and regroup and in a few months later, come back and do it all over again," Hartsell said.

Some Americans are sympathetic to the cause of ISIS. And Hartsell is concerned the group will eventually plot to do harm here.

"Can there be a threat from inside our borders? You bet there can. And we best acknowledge it," Hartsell said.

Hartsell says ISIS's threat from within the US is more of a long-term danger. For now, Hartsell says the US cannot lose its focus or commitment to take the fight to ISIS overseas.

"There's only one way to deal with them. You annihilate them, you destroy them, you kill them, you take them out, you take them off the map, period," Hartsell said.

Hartsell says the U-S air strikes against ISIS in Iraq have some military value, but he describes them more as pin-pricks that don't deal any decisive blows against ISIS forces.

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