Obama admitted that he underestimated the threat posed by ISIS fighters in Syria, as US-led coalition warplanes pounded the oil sites that fund the jihadist group.
The Obama administration has cited its intelligence weaknesses before.
Up until Sunday, the strikes had targeted mainly jihadist bases and makeshift oil refineries used by the militants, in a bid to weaken one of their main sources of financing.
The jihadists control a section of territory straddling northwestern Iraq and eastern Syria, home to most of Syria’s main oilfields, and their oil infrastructure is now the main target of the air strikes.
Experts say the jihadists were earning as much as $3 million (2.4 million euros) daily from oil before the coalition began launching strikes on Syria, building on the air war under way against IS in Iraq since August 8.
Speaking to CBS News, Obama said that former Al-Qaeda fighters driven from Iraq by US and local forces had been able to gather in Syria to form the newly dangerous Islamic State group.
“I think our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria,” Obama said, referring to his director of national intelligence.
Asked whether Washington had also overestimated the ability or will of Iraq’s US-trained military to fight the jihadists on its own, Obama said: “That’s true. That’s absolutely true.”
US-led coalition planes pounded oil sites in Syria Sunday that fund the IS group, as Syria’s Al-Qaeda branch warned that people in Europe and America would pay the price.
In his first speech since air raids were launched on Syria, the head of the Al-Qaeda affiliate there, Al-Nusra Front, warned of reprisals.
“Your leaders will not pay the price for the war alone, you will pay the higher price,” Abu Mohammad al-Jolani said in an Internet audio message, addressing “people of America and Europe”.
Failure to stop these air strikes “will transfer the battle to your very homes”, he said.
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