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Gen. Martin Dempsey, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Islamic State cannot be defeated without striking its base in Syria. Secretary of Defense Hagel warned that the IS poses "an imminent threat" to US interests everywhere, not just in Iraq, and said it is "as sophisticated and well-funded as any group" the US has seen. The US continued to carry out airstrikes against the IS in Iraq. Hagel did not foreclose the possibility of airstrikes in Syria. The Government Accountability Office concluded that the Defense Department broke the law by exchanging five Taliban commanders in Guantanamo Bay for Pfc. Bowie Bergdahl without notifying Congress in advance. The US posted new rewards for five Haqqani Network leaders, and added a Taliban hawala along with its owner and a Taliban commander to the US terrorist lists.
Unmanned US drones conducted airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Iraq today and the Pentagon is said to be considering sending up to 300 more US security forces to Baghdad. President Obama vowed that the US would be relentless in bringing justice to the Islamic State terrorists who beheaded US journalist James Foley. Confirming Foley's murder, Secretary of State Kerry called the Islamic State "evil." A US official dismissed the idea that the beheading and threats by the Islamic State would cause the US to suspend airstrikes, saying "the only question is if we do more."
President Obama said the US is pursuing a "longterm strategy" against the Islamic State, and yesterday invoked the War Powers Act to justify authorizing airstrikes against Islamic State militants threatening Iraq's Mosul Dam; the Pentagon has conducted 40 airstrikes since Aug. 16 to support operations of Iraqi security forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga to retake the complex. The State Department designated Said Arif a.k.a. Omar Gharib, an Al Nusrah Front leader, and Abu Muhammed al Adnani, an Islamic State leader and spokesman, as global terrorists. The USS Cape Ray finished neutralizing all 600 metric tons of Syria's most lethal chemical weapons components. The FAA prohibited US airlines from flying over Syria, and warned that extremist groups in Syria with anti-aircraft weapons are opposed to the provision of civil air service to Syria. The Islamic State posted a brief video on social media threatening Americans that it will "drown all of you in blood" if US airstrikes hit IS fighters.