Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki asked last month for the U.S. to consider carrying out air strikes against Iraq’s growing insurgency but the White House turned him down, The New York Times reports.
While the Obama administration denied the initial request, a senior U.S. military official told The Daily Beast the White House “did not give them a hard no — it was ‘Thanks for your interest and we will talk about it more.”
Insurgents in Iraq have scored a number of successes in the country recently, seizing control of the key Iraqi cities of Mosul and Tikrit, as well as occupying facilities in the oil-refining town of Baiji. These facilities include a power station that provides electricity to Kirkuk and Baghdad.
As well-trained, hostile forces increasingly surround al-Maliki, the Iraqi Prime Minister has asked for air support to include both manned and unmanned missions.
“This is not a terrorism problem anymore,” Jessica Lewis, an expert at the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington think tank, told Time Magazine. “This is an army on the move in Iraq and Syria, and they are taking terrain.”
While there has been no request for ground troops, manned missions would mean a return to combat for a U.S. military that waged a bloody campaign against extremists for nearly nine years.
Still, the U.S. has provided Iraq with $US14 billion in military aid so far, including F-16 fighter jets, M-16 rifles, Apache helicopters, and other military hardware, according to The Times.
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