U.S. Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton backed elements of President Barack Obama's strategy to fight Islamic State militants in a debate on Saturday, drawing criticism from all sides for saying "we now finally are where we need to be" in Syria.
Top rival Bernie Sanders accused Clinton of being too quick to push for regime change, while Republican candidate Carly Fiorina, said the former secretary of state was too willing to cede U.S. policy to other countries.
The debate was the Democrats' first since the deadly Dec. 2 attack by a pair of radicalized Muslims in San Bernardino, California, which along with the November attacks in Paris elevated national security to the top of the campaign agenda.
Obama has relied heavily on U.S. air strikes against Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq, and has deployed dozens of special operations troops to northern Syria to advise opposition forces. In Iraq, about 3,500 U.S. troops are assisting Iraqi forces.