Samantha Power, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, said Sunday that other nations are willing to join the U.S. in airstrikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS, also known as ISIL), but like other top officials would not offer further details on which nations would be involved.
"We do" have other nations willing to strike ISIS, Power said in an interview on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday, "but we're going to leave it to other nations to announce for themselves what their specific commitments to the coalition are going to be."
"The president has said we're not going to allow ISIL to have safe haven in Syria, but no decisions have been made in terms of how we're going to proceed in that. In terms of the broader anti-ISIL coalition, we do indeed have the support along the lines that I described," Power told hold Bob Schieffer.
She said that Secretary of State John Kerry chaired a meeting of the U.N. Security Council in New York on Friday where more than 40 countries spoke in favor of U.S. efforts. As an example, Power said France recently announced it had begun conducting air strikes against ISIS, Saudi Arabia is building a training facility for the moderate Syrian opposition that the U.S. is looking to arm and train, and other nations including Germany are providing weapons and military equipment to Iraq and Kurdish forces battling ISIS on the ground.
As for the role of Iran, a country that opposes the Sunni militants that make up ISIS but supports the government of Bashar Assad that the U.S. opposes, Power said that the U.S. has no plans to coordinate military operations or share intelligence with Iran.
"Iran has made clear that it too views ISIL as an enemy and as a threat. And so in that respect, all of our operations are oriented around the objective of degrading and destroying ISIL, and we're waiting to hear whether Iran thinks it has a constructive role to play. But I would note that Iran's behavior and its actions in Syria have been very destructive from our perspective," she said.
Iranian Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, speaking on Iranian state television last week, said his government privately refused American requests for cooperation against ISIS.
Power also defended the way President Obama has communicated with the American people about the fight against ISIS, saying he has not hurt the U.S. position by reiterating over and over that he will not put combat troops on the ground.
"I think what's he doing is describing the contours of the campaign he has worked out with his cabinet," Power said. "I think he's been very clear that we're going to use our unique capabilities...through air operations to support the ground operations by the Iraqis and the Kurds."
A handful of U.S. military leaders, including Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin Dempsey and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno, have said they would not rule out the need for combat troops in Iraq to defeat ISIS. But the president has said multiple times that he will not make that move.
Power also expressed skepticism at the view that the lines Mr. Obama has drawn has made ISIS take the U.S. less seriously.
"Given the string of military defeats that ISIL has suffered since the United States got involved in Iraq, I would assume that ISIL is taking the United States very, very seriously, as they are now on their heels in a way that they were not before the U.S. got involved," Power said.