President Barack Obama acknowledged on Sunday that intelligence officials in the U.S. had underestimated the threat the Islamic State posed and overestimated the capacity of the Iraqi army to defeat the radical militant group.
The president during an interview on 60 Minutes on CBS said that the militants in the Islamic State had gone underground after being squashed earlier in Iraq and then regrouped due to the chaos brought on by the Syrian civil war.
While that chaos was taking place, there were areas of territory not being governed and they were able to reconstitute themselves thus taking advantage of the chaos.
Obama and James Clapper his national intelligence director acknowledged underestimating what was taking place inside Syria. Obama added that it was true that the will and ability of the Iraqi army was overestimated by U.S. officials.
Obama however acknowledged that the U.S. was dealing with a difficult conundrum in Syria. The military campaign the U.S. is carrying out against the radical militant groups is aiding current Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who has been accused of war crimes by the United Nations.
Obama said he recognized the contradiction in a contradictory circumstance. He said Syria would not be stabilized under Assad whose regime has committed horrific atrocities.
Nevertheless, Obama called the Islamic State threat and that of other terror groups a concern that was more immediate that must be dealt with accordingly.
Obama added that immediate threats such as the Islamic State and the Khorasan Group are more important as they could bring harm to Americans.
The Islamic State is controlling large areas in northern Syria and in Iraq, while the Khorasan Group is a group of hardened militants the U.S. says plotted attacks against places in the West in cooperation with an affiliate of al-Qaeda known as Nusra Front.
Both of these groups have been the target of airstrikes led by the U.S. over the last few days and together are the biggest military opposition to President Assad in Syria.
Obama spoke about first degrading the groups who are threatening the West and Iraq.