In an interview with CNN, Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., called the U.S. administration’s ISIS strategy “an abject failure” and President Barack Obama’s declaration that the U.S. isn’t losing the fight against ISIS “mind-boggling.”
“It’s mind-boggling that the President could keep saying, and (administration officials) could keep saying what they’re saying while thousands of people are being butchered, burning bodies in the streets, executions, beheadings,” he said. “This is a disaster. It was predicted by me and Sen. Lindsey Graham, and it’s going to go on until we develop a strategy.”
Such a strategy, McCain has said, would require the deployment of 10,000 U.S. troops to help Iraqis fight back the terrorist group, which has made significant advances over the past week.
During the interview, McCain also said that Islamic State’s objective is not Syria or Iraq, but The United States.
“Their objective isn’t Iraq and Syria, their objective is us. They are a cancer and that cancer will spread unless it is checked,” he said.
A few hours after CNN interviewed McCain, Israeli news site Ynet reported that Assad’s forces in Syria lost more ground on Friday and Islamic State seized another town in Iraq and drove Assad’s army from its last held border control post on the Syrian-Iraqi border:
The regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad seemed to be further losing its grip in Syria on Friday, as his army was driven out of a key stronghold near the coast, hours after losing its last outpost on the Iraq border to Islamic State, on the other side of the country.
This new strategic loss for Assad, along with his recent losses to IS at the ancient city of Palmyra, and the last Syria-Iraqi border crossing, is another sign of his regime’s disintegration.
In Idlib in the northwest of the country, jihadis from the al-Nusra Front, affiliated with Al-Qaeda, succeeded in increasing their control of province after two weeks of fighting, breaking the siege of a major government hospital in Jisr ash-Shugur, from which Syrian soldiers were seen fleeing. Jisr ash-Shugur is considered one of the Syrian regime’s strategic strongholds due to its proximity to the Mediterranean Sea, where most of the Alawite community, of which Assad is a member, live.
An opposition website claimed that the rebels managed to take a great number of soldiers and officers prisoner during their escape from the hospital.
In Iraq, Sheikh Rafie al-Fahdawi said the small Iraqi town of Husseiba fell to Islamic State overnight when police and tribal Sunni fighters withdrew after running out of ammunition.
“We have not received any assistance from the government. Our men fought to the last bullet and several of them were killed,” he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
Husseiba is about 4 miles east of Ramadi, where Islamic State routed Iraqi forces last weekend in their most significant advance in nearly a year.
Al-Fahdawi said that with the fall of Husseiba, the militants have come closer to the strategic Habbaniyah military base, which is still held by government forces.
“The situation is very critical. The militants are about 5 kilometers from Habbaniyah base, which is now in great danger,” he said.