Pentagon plan to 'rapidly defeat' IS

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  • Donald Trump
    Donald Trump
    45th President of the United States

The US defence secretary has given the White House a plan to "rapidly defeat" the Islamic State group, the Pentagon says.

Jim Mattis's strategy includes significant elements of the approach President Donald Trump inherited, while potentially deepening US military involvement in Syria.

A Pentagon spokesman, navy Captain Jeff Davis, said Mattis, who travelled to Iraq last week to help inform his thinking, presented the results of a 30-day strategy review at a cabinet-level meeting of the National Security Council.

It was unclear whether the meeting included Trump, who said last week his goal was to "obliterate" IS.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Mattis was ensuring he had input from other cabinet agencies.

"That can help guide where we go from here," Spicer said.

Davis said details of the report were secret.

"It is a plan to rapidly defeat ISIS," Davis said, using the Pentagon's preferred acronym for the group, which has proven resilient despite losing ground in its strongholds in Syria and Iraq.

Officials familiar with the review have said it will likely lead to decisions that mean more US military involvement in Syria, and possibly more ground troops, even as the current US plan in Iraq appears to be working and will require fewer changes.

Davis described the Mattis report as "a framework for a broader discussion" of a strategy to be developed over time, rather than a ready-to-execute military plan.

In a January 28 executive order, Trump said he wanted within 30 days a "preliminary draft" of a plan to "defeat ISIS".

Beyond military options, the officials familiar with the review said the report increased emphasis on non-military elements of the campaign already under way, such as efforts to squeeze IS finances, limit recruiting and counter propaganda that is credited with inspiring violence in the US and Europe.

Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last week the emerging strategy would target not just IS militants but also al-Qaeda and other extremist organisations in the Middle East and beyond whose goal is to attack the US.

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