Former US defense secretary Leon Panetta has said that President Barack Obama’s mishandling of the situation in Syria resulted in the rising ISIL crisis.
Panetta said that Obama failed to provide Syrian rebels with arms far earlier so they could fight ISIL terrorists.
“I think in part, we pay the price for not doing that in what we see happening with ISIS (or ISIL),” Panetta told CBS’s “60 Minutes” news program aired on Sunday.
“I think the president’s concern, and I understand it, was that he had a fear that if we started providing weapons, we wouldn’t know where those weapons would wind up,” he stated.
The former CIA director also said that the US must have started taking actions. “My view was: you have to begin somewhere.”
He said arming the rebels would have helped, adding that eliminating the ISIL terrorist group would be a lengthy process and this is what the Americans should be aware of.
His comments come as Obama announced that Washington is ready to lead the fight against ISIL terrorists in Syria and Iraq.
Obama said on Saturday that the US will take action in no time against the terrorists but that needs help from other countries as well.
President Obama has authorized airstrikes against ISIL targets in Iraq and Syria, but has ruled out US boots on the ground in a combat role.
The United States has already conducted some 174 airstrikes against ISIL targets in Iraq since mid-August.