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August 22nd, 2014
05:48 AM ET

Pentagon Chief: ISIS 'Beyond Anything we Have Seen'

America's top defense officials left open the possibility of targeting fighters with the so-called Islamic State in Syria, saying during a news briefing Thursday it was not enough to just hit the extremist group in Iraq.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stopped short of calling for U.S. military action in eastern Syria, an ISIS stronghold.

"Can they be defeated without addressing that part of the organization that resides in Syria? The answer is no," Dempsey said during the briefing at the Pentagon.

Repeatedly pushed by reporters about whether that meant operations against ISIS in Syria, Hagel said, "We're looking at all options."

While it's unclear what those options may be, Hagel said the United States is "very clear-eyed" about ISIS.

"They are beyond just a terrorist group. They marry ideology, a sophistication of strategic and tactical military prowess," Hagel said.

"...This is beyond anything we have seen, and we must prepare for everything. And the only way you do that is that you take a cold, steely hard look at it and get ready."

See more on this developing story on CNN.com

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