U.S. General Martin Dempsey has announced that the Iraqi government has formally requested that the U.S. launch airstrikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) and its allies.
ISIS, and its coalition of Sunni militant groups, overran Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, last week. Earlier today, the jihadists seized Iraq’s largest oil refinery. ISIS also controls dams on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, threatening the majority of Iraq’s water supply.
BREAKING: Iraq’s Foreign Minister makes a public plea for the US to launch air strikes against advancing extremists north of Baghdad.
— Terry Moran (@TerryMoran) June 18, 2014
A number of prominent U.S. politicians and think tanks have echoed this call for airstrikes.
In a June 13 statement, Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham urged swift military action against ISIS while they are “over-stretched and least prepared for it.”
“… Our most immediate priority must be to reverse the advance of a terrorist force that is more radical, violent, and ambitious than Al-Qaeda,” McCain and Graham said. “We see no way to achieve this goal without U.S. air strikes, among other military and intelligence actions and additional support for our Iraqi partners.”
Along with airstrikes, the pair also urged the Iraqi government to take further steps to achieve national reconciliation. McCain and Graham also called on the Obama administration to urge Turkey to work closely with the Kurds to pressure ISIS from the north.
McCain and Graham hae found a perhaps-unlikely ally in this effort. The Center For American Progress, a left-leaning think tank, released a report yesterday saying that the U.S. should “prepare for limited counterterrorism operations against ISIS, including possible air strikes.”
ISIS now controls an area spanning Syria and Iraq that is roughly the size of Belgium.
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