(CNN) – President Barack Obama said that he is soliciting "a range of options" about what the United States could do to go after ISIS
in Syria, which he said has become "a safe haven" for the Islamist extremist group due to the ongoing unrest. At the same time, he stressed that this is "not simply a military issue but a political issue."
"I don't want to put the cart before the horse," Obama said. "We don't have a strategy yet."
Obama said he was sending U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to the region to work on building a coalition needed to face the threat of ISIS militants.
"This should be a wake-up call to Sunni, to Shia, to everybody, that a group like ISIS is beyond the pale, that they have no vision or ideology beyond violence and chaos and the slaughter of innocent people. And as a consequence, we've got to all join together," Obama said, "even if we have differences on a range of political issues, to make sure that they're all rooted out."
U.S. airstrikes in Iraq are working, Obama said.
"The terrorists of (ISIS) are losing arms and equipment," he said, and Iraqi and Kurdish forces are making inroads.
But "the idea that the United States or any outside power would perpetually defeat ISIS ... is unrealistic," Obama said, insisting that a strong, trusted Iraqi government is critical to ousting the Islamist terror group permanently.