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September 29th, 2014
05:53 AM ET

President Obama: We Misjudged ISIS

A week after U.S.-led airstrikes in Syria began, lawmakers continued to question President Barack Obama's strategy for defeating the militant group ISIS, which he admitted in a televised interview Sunday was more powerful than the U.S. initially believed.

Echoing sentiments also expressed by James Clapper, the head of U.S. intelligence services, Obama said the government "underestimated what had been taking place in Syria" during its civil war, allowing Syria to become "ground zero for jihadists around the world."

Speaking in a taped interview with CBS' "60 Minutes," Obama said the terrorists were remnants of al Qaeda in Iraq, which after being diminished by U.S. forces "went back underground."

"Over the past couple of years, during the chaos of the Syrian civil war, where essentially you have huge swaths of the country that are completely ungoverned, they were able to reconstitute themselves and take advantage of that chaos," Obama said, adding later the U.S. also overrated Iraq's security forces, which were quickly overrun by ISIS when it took over the northern city of Mosul this summer.

The President stressed that the issue in Iraq is not simply a military problem; it's a political one.

"This is America leading the international community to assist a country with whom we have a security partnership with, to make sure that they are able to take care of their business," he told "60 Minutes."

The President added: "If we do our job right and the Iraqis fight, then over time our role can slow down and taper off."

See the latest on this developing story on CNN.com

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