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President Obama on ISIS: 'We Don't Have a Strategy Yet'

President Barack Obama on Thursday pumped the brakes on the prospects of U.S. airstrikes against Islamic militants in Syria, saying "we don't have a strategy yet" to deal with the growing threat to the Middle East.

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Obama said defeating the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) will require an organized regional response, and announced Secretary of State John Kerry will soon travel to the Middle East to help build a coalition to stand up to the militants.

Yezidis living in Washington stage a protest outside the White House in Washington, United States, August 7, 2014, against the ISIS attacks on Yezidis in Iraq.
Kevin Winter | Getty Images
Yezidis living in Washington stage a protest outside the White House in Washington, United States, August 7, 2014, against the ISIS attacks on Yezidis in Iraq.

"This cancer that has developed is one that they have to be just as invested in in defeating as we are," Obama said during a White House press conference.

The U.S. has carried out airstrikes against ISIS in northern Iraq and the president has been considering similar strikes in Syria. Obama indicated that such strikes were not imminent, saying "we don't have a strategy yet."

Read MoreObama warns defeating ISIS won't be quick

The president will huddle with his national security team at the White House to discuss options Thursday evening.

Obama also addressed the growing tensions in Ukraine as officials say Russian troops entered the country to aid pro-Russian separatists. The president said he will meet next month with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and that additional sanctions will likely be taken if Russia does not change its behavior.

By Andrew Rafferty, NBC News