IS poses a long-term threat: Hagel

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Islamic State militants are the most dangerous threat the US has faced in recent years, insists Washington.Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said US air strikes had helped to break the Islamist advance in Iraq, but the militants could be expected to regroup.“They are beyond just a terrorist group. They marry ideology, a sophistication of strategic and tactical military prowess, they are tremendously well-funded... this is beyond anything that we have seen,” Hagel said in a news conference.

Meanwhile, General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said IS was “an organisation that has an apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision and which will eventually have to be defeated”. America’s top general stressed that IS could not be defeated without attacking their base in Syria.

The warnings come after IS posted a video showing the beheading of US journalist, James Foley.The US has now begun a formal criminal investigation into Mr Foley’s death, with US Attorney General Eric Holder warning that the country has a “long memory”.

It has emerged that a special US military mission tried but failed earlier this summer to rescue Mr Foley and other US hostages held in Syria.The militants had also reportedly wanted a $132m (£80m) ransom for his release.

But neither Mr Hagel nor Gen Dempsey announced a change in the limited military campaign adopted by Barack Obama. The US president is unlikely to deepen his involvement in Iraq or Syria.

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