US & World

US won't rule out attack in Syria to hit Islamic State

U.S. President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks about the killing of journalist James Foley in Syria during a statement in Edgartown, Mass., Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014. The president said the U.S. will continue to confront Islamic State extremists despite Foley's brutal murder. Obama said he spoke Wednesday with Foley's family and offered condolences.
U.S. President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks about the killing of journalist James Foley in Syria during a statement in Edgartown, Mass., Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014. The president said the U.S. will continue to confront Islamic State extremists despite Foley's brutal murder. Obama said he spoke Wednesday with Foley's family and offered condolences.
Jacquelyn Martin/AP

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American aircraft have carried out more strikes against the Islamic State, after the extremist group beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley. The attacks come despite threats to kill other hostages; a White House official says the U.S. could also targets areas in Syria, if warranted.

"We don't rule anything out when it comes to the protection of Americans, and the disruption of terrorist plotting against the United States," Ben Rhodes, President Obama's deputy national security advisor, tells NPR's Kelly McEvers. "So, we would not restrict ourselves by geographic boundaries when it comes to the core mission of U.S. foreign policy, which is the protection of our people."

In the video the group released Tuesday, an Islamic State militant also threatened to kill another reporter it's holding, Steven Joel Sotloff, who went missing in Syria in 2013.

"There are a number of American hostages who have been held in Syria," Rhodes tells Kelly on today's Morning Edition. "We're careful not to go into too many specifics, beyond the fact that we believe they've been in captivity for some time now. We are deeply concerned that every single day, they're in the custody of a terrorist organization like ISIL."

Rhodes said that the U.S. isn't seeking to work with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, saying that the terrorists had found a safe haven in Syria "because of Assad's policies."

As we reported last night, U.S. forces tried to rescue Foley and other hostages in Syria earlier this month, but the hostages weren't found in the targeted location.