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The CIA now estimates that the Islamic State has between 20,000 and 31,500 fighters in Syria and Iraq. Ryan Crocker, former ambassador to Syria and Iraq, said the US currently has no clue who the non-Islamic State opposition is in Syria. Retired Gen. John R. Allen has been chosen to coordinate the military effort against the Islamic State. US combat aircraft will soon start flying from a base in Irbil in Iraq. Ten Arab states -- Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq -- agreed to support the US-led coalition against the Islamic State "as appropriate." The US sent 20 troops to the Central African Republic as a prelude to reopening the embassy, which has been closed since late 2012.
President Obama announced a counterterrorism strategy against the Islamic State that will include airstrikes in Syria as well as Iraq and will see 475 additional US troops dispatched to Iraq; the US will lead a "broad coalition" against the IS, and the strategy will center around US air power supporting "partner forces on the ground." He also urged Congress to approve $500 million to train and equip "moderate" Syrian rebels, and vowed that the US "will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq." Secretary of State Kerry said US ground troops would be deployed in Iraq only if "very dramatic" changes called for it. A senior official said the US is very concerned that instability in Libya is conducive to its use by terrorists sending weapons and fighters to Iraq and Syria; he also said some militias there have expressed interest in IS.
President Obama told senior lawmakers he has the authority to carry out the plans for action against the Islamic State that he will announce tomorrow. The family of slain American journalist Stephen Sotloff claimed that his whereabouts in Syria was sold to the ISIS by a so-called moderate Syrian rebel group; the White House denied the report. The US is seeking to bolster intelligence cooperation with Jordan in the fight against the Islamic State. The US is ending its contracts with a security clearance contractor after it experienced a cyberattack in August that compromised the personal files of up to 25,000 Homeland Security employees.