House panel Thursday.
Hagel said President Barack Obama was briefed on those plans, approved by Hagel and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, during his visit to U.S. Central Command on Wednesday. Obama has not signed off on those plans yet, CNN has learned.
The so-called Islamic State continues to spread its radical Islamist rule in Syria and Iraq and on Thursday captured 16 predominantly Kurdish villages in northern Syria over the past 24 hours, a Syrian opposition group said. ISIS used artillery and tanks against the villages along the Syria-Turkey border, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
And the group published a video in which British hostage John Cantlie criticizes the American and British governments for their failure to negotiate for the hostages as other governments have done. He goes on to make a number of other propaganda points and promises a series of similar video presentations.
Since Cantlie is delivering ISIS propaganda and makes clear in the video he is speaking under duress, CNN will not show the video.
Meanwhile, U.S. lawmakers are debating the best way to stop ISIS, with Secretary of State John Kerry testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He said that while Syria had removed most of its chemical weaponry, President Bashar al-Assad continues to use chlorine weapons and is "in violation" of a treaty against the use of such weapons.
On Wednesday, the House approved Obama's plan to arm and train Syrian rebels. The House then tacked that onto a government spending bill that would allow leaders to continue funding the U.S. government and sent it to the Senate. On Thursday, the Senate will be voting on that whole package, fueling criticism that lawmakers are avoiding a separate vote on arming the Syrian rebels.
Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, told CNN's "New Day" that she had serious concerns.
"I'm going to vote for the continuing resolution because I don't want government to shut down," she said. "Right now, the Senate isn't even scheduled to have a separate vote on the Syrian resolution, and that's just plain wrong."