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  • Former Secretary Of Defense Says Airstrikes Won’t Take Out ISIS

    Airstrikes just aren’t enough to slow down the Islamic State, former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said Sunday.

    “Look, air strikes are great, you know, we’re hitting some targets, but air strikes alone are not going to win here,” Panetta said on NBC’s “Meet The Press.”

    Panetta emphasized that the United States needs to lead the effort and step up its tactics, because if the U.S. doesn’t, he said, no other country will.

    Russia has recently joined the struggle, and France has stepped up its airstrikes after the brutal Paris attacks, which left 130 dead and 300 injured. British Prime Minister David Cameron is seeking approval from Parliament to enter the fight as well, hoping that this time around, his previously denied request will be met with more support. In a reversal, Canada, as prompted by newly elected Liberal Party Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, is withdrawing its CF-18 fighter jets.

    “We’ve got to take that territory away from them,” Panetta said. “It’s been a year. They’re still in Mosul, they’re still in Ramadi, they’re still in Raqqa, those are areas we have to go after in order to be able to defeat ISIS, ultimately.”

    Panetta also cautioned about trusting the Russians.

    “Russia, obviously, it would be nice to have them as part of that effort, but frankly, I don’t trust them in this effort at this time,” he said.

    Working with the Russians and even sharing intelligence with the Kremlin is a proposal that current defense secretary Ash Carter is considering, although many within the Pentagon have no intention of handing over valuable information, given serious tensions between Russia and the U.S. Carter has pushed for the Russians to adopt a more U.S.-centric strategy, which involves fighting ISIS instead of rebel groups and to support a political transition away from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. (RELATED: Defense Sec Carter Blames Russians For Fuelling Civil War In Syria)

    While the Pentagon is convinced that Russia is hitting rebel groups instead of ISIS, in order to keep Assad in power, Russia is similarly convinced that the Pentagon’s lackluster airstrikes on ISIS are designed to usher in the downfall of the Assad regime.

    Panetta served as defense secretary in the Obama administration 2011 to 2013. Ash Carter is President Barack Obama’s fourth defense secretary.

    Follow Jonah Bennett on Twitter

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