U.S. Approves $500 Million To Fund And Arm Moderate Syrian Rebels Against ISIS

National Security Advisor Susan Rice remains silent on when airstrikes might be launched in Syria.
29:11 | 09/19/14

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Transcript for U.S. Approves $500 Million To Fund And Arm Moderate Syrian Rebels Against ISIS
Laurie US allies now getting involved in the fight against -- France today launching its first air strike in Iraq to counter the extremist groups advances hello everyone -- Hernandez in New York the airstrike from France coming less than 24 hours. After President Obama signed off on 500 million dollars to fund and train moderate Syrian rebels in order to fight against -- The sense of urgency now growing ice is tries to expand its reach outside the Middle East it is it Karen Travers has the latest from Washington. President Obama now has what he wants congressional approval to train an -- moderate Syrian rebels to -- diocese the strong bipartisan -- in congress for this new training effort. Shows the world that Americans are united. In confronting the threat for -- the Obama administration continues to work and building an international coalition to take on -- in Syria and Iraq. Today France conducted its first air strikes against racist targets in Iraq. A military spokesman there said that dozens of -- -- fighters were killed France's president said its target was entirely destroyed. -- Australia officials are giving more details about the massive raid that they said disrupted a major ice -- plot. -- has thing chatter amongst the -- terrorist support networks for some time. About possible attacks on government here in Australia. Authorities there say they'd been tracking them normal in the green shirt a one time seedy nightclub bouncer turned -- -- recruiter. He's now thought to be a senior -- -- leader in Syria. The extremist group released another propaganda video yesterday this -- British journalist John Stanley kidnapped in Syria two years ago. Now forced to read a three minute script. About the benefits of crisis. Just thinking he's only doing this because he's a prison. He's got a -- and his head he's being forced to do this brides. Well it's true I am a prison. Officials believe there are an estimated fifteen remaining western hostages including two young Americans. Crisis is believed to -- move them in recent months as they try and stay ahead of US surveillance. Karen Travers ABC news Washington. Thank you Karen for -- never gonna go straight to the White House precinct briefing room -- national security advisor Susan crisis. Is that our strategy entails using local forces to fight -- -- on the ground. Iraqi Security Forces have already taken the fight this all along with their Kurdish colleagues with US support. And obviously now will be in a position to train and equip the Syrian opposition forces. Which -- -- happy. Ability to do the same incited serious. To be clear. As we said repeatedly our strategy does not involve. US troops on the ground in a combat role in either Iraq or Syria. And no US troops will be in serious as part of the train and equip program. This program will be hosted outside of Syria in partnership. With neighboring countries. At -- com earlier this week. The president underscored the importance of building a broad coalition of nations. To offer assistance in a comprehensive campaign to come back is so. Today more than forty countries have offered assistance. And we're particularly pleased that Frances joined us in conducting air strikes in Iraq and there are many other countries. From the region and beyond offering other important assistance. This afternoon secretary Kerry will be in New York. To -- an important session of the united nations Security Council. On Iraq and that session will underscore. International support for the new inclusive government in Iraq. And it will galvanize. In support our efforts to build this coalition. To degrade and ultimately destroy -- This work of coalition building is ongoing it is something that all of the president's senior. Advisories are actively involved it of course the president himself and which this process will continue through next week -- that and beyond. Another important element. The president's agenda this week was. Our trip to the CDC in Atlanta. Where the president outlined -- intensified response to come. Confronting the -- bowl epidemic in West Africa. The president's made very clear that this is a national security priority. And while -- assessed that the Ebola epidemic does not pose a significant risk of spreading to. The United States it is nonetheless. The largest epidemic of its sort in history. And the first such in West Africa and therefore we have put in place a whole of government effort. That will build on the measures that we began back in March were -- first occurred. But the response now will leverage the unique capabilities at the united states military. As well as that of RE ID and development community and of course. Our health and disease control experts to bring this epidemic under control. And then of course yesterday. We welcome President Bush -- Ukraine. To the White House and this was. Very important opportunities dress to reaffirm. The United States very strong support for Ukraine its independence sovereignty its territorial integrity. And it's democratic transition economic evolution. Yesterday we were able to announce an additional 53 million dollars in assistance. To Ukraine. That is primarily additional security systems that 46 million dollars. I think that. Totals two assistants. To Ukraine from the United States and about 290 million dollars thus -- this year. Now let me time if -- -- to next week which will be another intense. Foreign policy and national security week. The president will travel to New York on Tuesday. His first engagements. At the UN will be the climate summit which is a meeting of world leaders convened by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. The meeting will showcase climate action commitments from governments local leaders and the private sector in an effort to build will. And a new global climate change agreement in time for 2015. -- -- milestone summit will occur. President Obama will speak of that summit and emphasizing ambitious actions that we've taken under his climate action plan. To reduce carbon pollution at home. And -- also stressed that all major economies need to step up to the plate if way to avoid the dangerous consequences of climate change. The president will then attend the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting as he has in the past where -- address how the administration. In partnership with other governments nongovernmental organizations and the Philanthropic community. Is deepening its commitment to defend and strengthen civil society. Globally. This event will mark one year since the president launched the stand with civil society initiative last week at -- last year at the general assembly. This was a groundbreaking effort to support defend and sustain the work of civil society. Around the world amidst a rising tide of restrictions. On its work. On Wednesday morning the president will deliver his annual address to the UN general assembly. And later in the day he will chair a landmark meeting of the united nations Security Council focused on the foreign terrorist fighter threat. This convening of world leaders is another element of our comprehensive response to the challenge posed by is -- And we expect during that UN Security Council session to be able to adopt any. Chapter seven resolution. That will expand upon current obligations. Within international law. And underscore the centrality. Of countering violent extremism. Which is to keep part of the effort to suppress the -- fighter threat. This will be only the second time that an American president has chaired the united nations Security Council some of you may recall the President Obama did it. Back in 2009. That was the first time. And that was a summit on nonproliferation. As in 2009 the United States has the rotating presidency of the Security Council. For the month of September and that's the ability to convene and -- such a summit. Later. The same day the president will speak at the open government partnership. High level of an email or call this is an initiative that the United States launched in 2011. It is co hosted this year by Indonesian president and you know whose as you know outgoing and Mexican president opinion yet -- -- This. Is very important initiatives. That was launched by the president as I mentioned with seven other founding members three years ago. And now it has grown to. Some 64 countries and we have generated commitments from countries around the world. Two more open transparent. And accountable governance fighting corruption. Energizing civic engagement. The last day will be Thursday the 25 and the president will then. Address -- high level meeting chaired by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon on the -- -- epidemic. And we will build on the momentum of the president's announcement this week where he and stepped up our commitment. And we expect this will be an occasion where other countries would announce additional commitments. To the global fight against -- -- -- And it will also be an opportunity for the UN. Two. Detail its plans to support the effort to meet unmet needs and we expect commitments in the form of financial assistance equipment personnel. And efforts to construct treatment -- finally while in New York the president role as he always does have the opportunity to hold. Some bilateral meetings and other world leaders. And to participate in other functions such as his. The reception -- host every year for visiting heads of state. The secretary general's annual luncheon. -- section and we'll have more details about those engagements and the schedule. In the coming days. -- -- -- -- -- I think about. The French -- that in. -- -- Carry out. Bear Stearns relief. I'm wondering whether you run -- -- you know but hopefully. When you run the risk of creating bifurcated solution one that is willing to carry out the Vatican's special. Syria. And I'm wondering if he had any other war commitments. Pick -- Syria. -- And I don't think we're gonna have a bifurcated coalition this will be a unified coalition -- one operation. It'll be under -- common commands. And we will continue to welcome the involvement of partners who will make different contributions based on their capacity based on their. Varying political circumstances but it will be unified it will be cohesive. And it will be. Under one single. Command authority. And so I'm quite. Encouraged that. We will have a number of countries participate in various different ways already. Australia has indicated. An active involvement the British have been involved as long with the friends in the strains in the Canadian city in the humanitarian operation inside of Iraq. And we do anticipate that. That to the extent that action is the necessary in Syria that there will be other countries involved in this alongside the United States. The president took the salute last week didn't authorize air drives are important wardens take place whether it actually happens and you receive -- -- Pentagon. Well I think we've been clear and the president has outline that his strategy. That entails not only broadening the effort against -- so. In Iraq and -- going on the offensive in support of Iraqi forces against -- -- -- but it will necessarily. And in all likelihood involve action series and he has said he is prepared to take that action. I don't think it would be appropriate -- -- for -- to telegraph from the podium exactly when that will occur and under who and what. Steps may need to be taken before that is two. Broader coalition -- What I think is this -- -- -- -- Precision or prediction. On when that might occur. Obviously we are working every day to build the coalition that we are making good progress in that regard. And there are other elements of the comprehensive approach that we are pulling together that hurt important aspects of the overall strategy. Thank you on the UN Security Council. You have agreement among members is now. Expectant couple what does. -- the resolution the first vote I do expect that we will have a successful resolution which means agreement. Among at least a majority of member states and no vetoes but I expect actually. It'll be a resolution they were able to reach unanimity on -- -- imported the issue. In my experience in New York the resolutions are really concluded. This far out in advance I know the negotiations are going on but I think there they're going. Comparatively well. Such a resolution would build on the existing international. Legal architecture. You may -- UN Security Council resolution thirteen 73 that was passed not long after 9/11 they dealt in part with the challenge of the flow of foreign terrorists and to. Combat -- this will build on that it will increase the obligations on states. To try to prevent. And and deter. The flow of foreign fighters it will also. Place new emphasis on the challenge of countering violent extremism and one's own domestic context is it. An important part of the larger challenge so it will move the ball. Down the field in terms of the international legal architecture -- obligations on states. To try to combat this just. Just. -- treaty with the Syrian opposition and could take up to -- to actually get your pants up and running do you still see that is being timeline and now the authorization is there. We're planning for the Syrian training start media. So let me reiterate. Gratitude. Four -- swift action by congress congress to provide that authorization. Obviously that was -- necessary predicate for us to proceed. And now that we have that we will move out is rapidly. As can be done in partnership. With the countries that it will host the training facilities they need to be constructed. And trainees and need to be -- and and and and brought in to train to this will be a process that takes months and I think that's been indicated this is not gonna happen overnight. It is not. Something that. One should expect -- yields. Rapid and the -- -- this is a serious training program. And we're serious about getting those that we will be training and equipping so I can't give you a precise deadline I can tell you will move. As fast as we reasonably can. But this is -- meant something that -- takes many months. This strike me. -- these -- -- has been described as much greater -- the right now to the Middle East news in the Middle East. And the most immediate threat it poses to the United States is that these foreign fighters. So the first part is why are we not and other countries jump onto this immediately. -- we're seeing really up until today only the United States conducting airstrikes. And how can you. Give some confidence the American people what kind of handle. The US has on the American foreign fighters how many they are and how well we are keeping track of where they actually vote. With respect to -- Americans who may be engaged in combat in Iraq and Syria this is something. That our national security agencies and counterterrorism. Team are taking very seriously. It's something we tracked closely. And we are doing obviously all that we can. To both gathered the necessary information and take the appropriate precautions. Into the greatest extent that we possibly can and obviously that also entails consultation and collaboration with other countries because. -- -- in many instances they transit. Two and through. Their countries so. We're very much focused on -- -- were called it we handed -- meeting earlier in the week. With the president that was focused solely. On the foreign fighters that as it debt relates to the larger counterterrorism -- that was an opportunity for members of the national security team to. Provide the president with an update on their very deliberate and concerted efforts to -- from mr. -- -- one. On the air strikes and -- it sounded like what you say the war effort -- to call my time comes to present himself in front. The decision as to Winchester I guess well I think is is is the case the president will make the decision that. It it should happen and then the the commanders who carried out in accordance with the guidance provided. By the present dependent on -- waiting for that offers us. That's now -- -- and suggested different quest. He spoke well he explained things. -- asked if the president will make the decision. And I answered by the -- I just answered -- As he made the decision yet an authorization and well. What what I said is earlier is that. We've been very clear that we are prepared to go ahead and take action. -- in Syria as part of this larger campaign. I'm not going to preview from the podium. When that will happen. It will be at a time and a place our own choosing. But yeah. As he already made his. Were rescued what number we're asking what we're not asking you to tell us where in the bombings of stars -- -- -- there's been some mixed message has the president already made that decision to do this now just a matter of when the Pentagon pulls the trigger or is there -- -- her decision that's an estimated John not announcing. Decisions by the present here today I'm here to tell you that we are prepared to and the president's been clear the United States is prepared to act in Syria. And when and and how we choose to do that -- will be an operational decision. Is that what you're -- -- -- -- -- -- this morning good thing that could -- and thank you it's. I mean I don't listen but is that there. -- -- -- There you have national security advisor. Susan Rice leaving the podium Josh Earnest taking over with the briefing but we -- gonna break away from both this briefing. And the current briefing happening at the Pentagon right now to talk to Louis Martinez. Who is joining us -- let's talk about Susan Rice first she talked about a number of issues there but what is the take away. In terms of her statements on crisis or -- While she's talking about -- the United States is working with its international partners and he's going to continue to work and improve the coalition. That is going to take on ice as you heard talk about. This UN meeting it's gonna take place next week where President Obama. He's going to seek support at the UN security council for resolution. To stop the flow of foreign fighters in -- -- -- and who -- wanting to join -- inside Syria and Iraq. Not that some big push big diplomatic push by this administration. You heard talking about. The president think is and he's prepared to launch airstrikes inside Syria and the little dynamic they're -- reporters has to do about. Whether he's actually said yes we should go but -- -- but there's another layer of authorization -- to take place. Kind of a little bit of the process. But what we hear clearly from her is that. This is an effort to take on ice is at the time and place of our choosing that hasn't happened yet. But but officials telling us that we should be prepared for that to happen and any time. Now the other thing that we heard from Susan Rice are talking about. With regards to you -- is the the moderates -- the training program. Four these Syrian moderates inside Syria. And she qualifies it -- very strongly that there will be no US troops inside Syria but an official telling us that the reason why. We the United States is supporting training -- this force is so that there are no US ground troops inside Syria. She also talked about. The difficulty in setting up the training process in terms of vetting the people who'll receive -- training there's a lot of concern that the 500 million dollars now authorized for training and arming. These potential soldiers is and we're not exactly sure who will be training we -- -- be absolutely sure about that. In the key thing here -- is the vetting all of these individuals that the United States is going to be training simultaneously with this briefing there's been pentagon briefing. Where finance spokesman -- admiral John Kirby he's been taking questions about this. When he was asked about the win this program's gonna take place now that congress is funded it. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- Martin Dempsey the chairman of the joint chiefs earlier this week he -- it a timeframe and -- The first training and won't begin for another three to five months Kirby says that is -- and what the Pentagon sees. And interest -- what Kirby also -- about what the mission. And these this moderates Syrian rebel force will be number one is to protect. There are regions their homes in other words. Being a defense force for their villages -- for their towns. Number two taking on -- ices and number three taking on the Asad regime that that's the mission is gonna take some time to develop. And feed -- again Susan Rice -- laying out the plan for how that's going to be. Price also kicked off a number of countries who have committed to some form of assistance in terms of combating crisis we've talked a lot about France joining in the air strikes. How is that expected to change the landscape what do we seen so far. Well I was one of the questions they use that was -- to Susan Rice there is it's gonna lead to make a coalition. The administration of course company -- -- coalition but it's gonna be a split coalition among those who. Aren't willing to provide military force and those -- or not she said no this is one coalition. With the varying degrees of cooperation but is it all art. With the same resolve here to take on ices now. Obviously this is the first airstrike aside from the United States. And connect -- by other than United States aircraft over Iraq and connect by the -- that targeted a supply depots that ice has had somewhere and I northeastern France and president -- want a friend saying today. That if French forces will likely be carrying out further military action. Inside Iraq. So already we're seeing this coalition this military angle of the coalition already taking for -- -- Com and also the training of the programming the that the training program that is getting for these two moderates -- inspires us -- Take place in the senate side Saudi Arabia. Which by the way we're talking about -- hearing agreeing -- -- and just the fact that Saudi Arabia is acknowledging this program is news in itself. They're always they've always been wary of any knowledge being when their involvement -- the military involvement in Britain winning. Pertains to other Arab countries and right here they they are being up front and center that they will be. Part of this involved in this training program. There seem to be a lot of interest in terms of but when we talk separately about air strikes in Syria when they might take place a lot of resistance. From rice and talking about perhaps the -- that would be taken before hand before that trigger is -- an elaborate on that. Sure when but the president put that Obama visited -- -- headquarters in Tampa that's the military command that is preparing target list for all of the for Syria. We've had American surveillance planes. Most of Emma unmanned that had been providing reconnaissance and surveillance about. The targets to hit inside Syria has been happening now for a matter of weeks when the president announced last week that -- -- was prepared to launch airstrikes inside Syria. Those those target list for still being developed. We're told that they are. Almost finalized -- not complete and that that's what the president was briefed on when he visited -- com earlier this week. So the timing now and -- the reporters asking Walden and does -- have to sign -- even again so that the military. Can now to proceed with the -- -- air strikes. Is kind of a mixed signals there from. Susan Rice and not providing a clear answer but ultimately what's gonna happen is that the military's -- get -- -- orders. And they will carry out the strikes. Depending on the timeline that they've already prepared or another fact there is let's say targets of opportunity that might arise inside Syria. And again you you talked about this earlier there's a real distinction. Or real avoidance of of boots on the ground in -- and that is a major step she said that training while not even. Take place in that country. That's right -- -- take place inside Saudi Arabia. And of the cleared them marker from in the White House this week after we heard SA general Dempsey on the hill talked opening -- -- the to the possibility. -- media advisors accompanying Iraqi ground forces advisors -- Colin airstrikes. From American fighters overhead. And the administration saying. They are going to be -- if that happens. They will not be considered ground troops but then -- clean that clear marker from this administration has been throughout. That there will be no US combat troops -- -- in Iraq and Syria. And the definition that they're using is let's say a large combat force like the one that was used in the invasion. Of Iraq in 2003. And then that it is for the ten years at the United States remain inside. Iraq for and also they they say that that is the -- need to get away from. We're talking no combat troops that's what they mean by that. Of course that raised questions for mothers say while the forces that are already there are combat troops they're just not being utilized -- -- combat mission. Well let's talk a bit about the raid in Australia. Potential -- his attack thwarted. A lot of people considering that a rude awakening showing prices reach. How is the administration responded. Well administration in this has been a big concern from Homeland Security officials. Throughout about what crisis poses the risk it -- -- the United States and it's. And our partners around the world -- -- -- inspiration that it provides to you home -- potential terrorists and then this is the case in Australia. -- as a group that was influenced by ice is obviously by the recent speak the videos of the -- that -- -- has perpetrated. Recently. Mandate drying -- inspiration from that and that's the concern here in the US as well buy from Homeland Security officials. They've always been concerned that American four Americans who have sought -- go to Syria to join. Any number of them will rebel fighting forces there could come back and use whatever training they have. To couldn't commit to a terrorist acts inside the United States. This is a concern -- our European partners and now you kind of see something. -- a similar track. And bombing these individuals in Australia that I don't believe that they were had 42 fighting experience inside Syria themselves. Rated BC's Louis Martinez in the Pentagon wrapping up briefings both at the White House. And the Pentagon this afternoon you can of course keep up with this story in real time by downloading the ABC news happened -- -- story for exclusive updates on the go for now. -- Hernandez in New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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