US mulls air strikes as Iraq militants advance on Baghdad

Possible state of emergency in Iraq's capital city Baghdad as militants advance. US to offer air assistance.

By: Agence France Presse | Kirkuk | Updated: June 12, 2014 3:36 pm

 

This image made from video posted by Iraqi0Revolution, a group supporting the al-Qaida breakaway ISIL (Source: AP) This image made from video posted by Iraqi0Revolution, a group supporting the al-Qaida breakaway ISIL (Source: AP)

Jihadists were pushing toward Baghdad on Thursday after capturing a town just hours to the north, as the US mulled air strikes in a bid to bolster Iraq’s collapsing security forces.

Fighters from the Sunni Muslim Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have spearheaded a major offensive that began late Monday, overrunning the northern province of Nineveh and significant parts of Kirkuk to its southeast and Salaheddin to its south.

This morning they were advancing on Baghdad, after seizing the town of Dhuluiyah just 90 kilometres away, witnesses and officials said, adding that the nearby Muatassam area has also fallen.

ISIL spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani promised the group would drive on to Baghdad and Karbala, a city southwest of the capital that is one of the holiest sites for Shiite Muslims, in a statement carried by jihadists’ websites.

With militants closing in, Iraq’s parliament was to meet in emergency session Thursday to consider a request from Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and the president’s office to declare a state of emergency.

Doing so requires a two-thirds vote, making it unlikely to pass the sharply divided parliament, which has produced little significant legislation in years and is often poorly attended.

The swift collapse of Baghdad’s control comes on top of the loss of Fallujah, west of Baghdad, at the start of the year. It has been a blow for Western governments that invested lives and money in the invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Washington is considering several options for offering military assistance to Baghdad, including drone strikes, a US official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Resorting to such aircraft — used in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen in a highly controversial programme — would mark a dramatic shift in the US engagement in Iraq, after the last American troops pulled out in late 2011.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the US was committed to “working with the Iraqi government and leaders across Iraq to support a unified approach against ISIL’s continued aggression.”

But there is no current plan to send US troops back into Iraq, where around 4,500 American soldiers died in the bitter conflict.

 

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  1. F
    freedom
    Jun 12, 2014 at 1:25 pm
    US invaded Iraq on wrong propaa, ruined the country and left. Now jihadi militants have a chance after US left the country lawless. It's just because of US that Iraq has to go through militants and al-Qaida. Now US has to fix this problem, their involvement is definitely required. US please put more money and men to solve the mess your created. Clean your own shi t.
    Reply
  2. G
    Girish
    Jun 12, 2014 at 9:44 am
    sure, increase the chaos by using a sledge-hammer approach to save US investment in Iraq oil. so many Iraqis died in collateral damage so far. so what if now US has to kill some more?invading Iraq was never for Iraqis, stupid. that's what the marketing campaign said and you bought it, and are still buying.
    Reply
  3. A
    Aam Admi
    Jun 12, 2014 at 12:45 pm
    US should stop acting like world police. They have ruined Iraq by attacking Saddam govt on the pretext of nuclear material which did not see the light of the day. They kept fooling the international community how dangerous Saddam is for world peace. Their motives were eventually understood by the world at large. High time they stay out of this. Let the Iraqis resolve their own problem within.
    Reply