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‘Paris attacks ‘likely directed and equipped’ from Syria’

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Washington: The attacks in Paris were likely directed and equipped from Syria, a US lawmaker said today, warning it was a consequence of allowing Islamic State a sanctuary “with too much time to plan and plot.”

“And unless that changes strategically, we can expect more attacks like this,” said Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.

His comments on ABC’s “This Week” come amid growing questions about a US-led strategy that has relied on air strikes to try to roll back IS in Syria and Iraq while picking off its leaders one by one.

The international response to the attacks was the focus of a summit in Turkey, including US President Barack Obama who vowed to stand by France and “redouble” efforts to wipe out jihadist networks.

French authorities, meanwhile, were working feverishly to identify the gunmen who opened fire on Friday night’s crowds in Paris, killing at least 129 people in attacks at a stadium, a concert hall and bars and restaurants.

“This was an ISIS attack likely directed and equipped out of Syria,” Schiff said, adding that France has been the primary focus of IS attacks for the past year.

“They have wanted to attack in public places like we saw, so tragically this week,” he said.

He said even the best intelligence was not enough to stop attacks by an enemy that is adapting to the West’s defenses, as IS has.

“I think the implications are this is not just an intelligence failure. It’s a failure also of a coalition campaign, because we have allowed ISIS to have sanctuary in Syria and Iraq with too much time to plan and plot, too much resources to be directed against us,” he said, using an alternate acronym for IS.

The US deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, said on the same program that the United States will intensify air strikes, the training and equipping of forces on the ground and the targeting of IS leaders.

The US believes that by intensifying those efforts “we’ll be able to roll back ISIL and ultimately achieve that objective of defeating the organization,” Rhodes said.

But Schiff said the United States has being doing that already.

“I think that the chief failure here is we cannot allow ISIS to have this unmolested sanctuary in Syria and Iraq from which to plan and direct attacks against us, because some of those attacks will get through,” he said.