Newt Gingrich says the United States must begin airstrikes immediately in Iraq to stem the uprising by Sunni militants and to prevent Iran from gaining a foothold in the region.
"We have no choice at this point: The United States must quickly begin airstrikes," the former Republican House speaker said on Friday on "Crossfire" on CNN. "The alternative is to accept that Iran will come marching in, and Iran will end up dominating both Iraq and Syria."
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The Sunni militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have made huge gains in the Sunni heartland north of Baghdad after overrunning Iraq's second-largest city of Mosul on Tuesday.
Soldiers and policemen have melted away in the face of the lightning advance, and thousands have fled to the self-ruling Kurdish region in northern Iraq. ISIS, an al-Qaida splinter group, includes supporters of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and other disaffected Sunnis.
On Saturday, insurgents seized Adeim, a small town in Diyala province, after Iraqi security forces pulled out. Adeim is about 60 miles north of Baghdad. There was no official confirmation of the loss of the town.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also pledged on Saturday to help Iraq fight the militants if asked, though all final military decisions rest with its Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Rouhani said Iran would study any request for help from Iraq, but that it had "no option but to confront terrorism."
The "Crossfire" co-host, who represented Georgia in the House for two decades beginning in 1979, blamed the current fighting in Iraq to "wrong" policies by both President Barack Obama and his predecessor, Republican George W. Bush.
He called Bush's approach "wrong in many ways," because it included disbanding the Iraqi army and seeking to reorganize the country "from the ground up."
But Obama's strategy has "been wrong in almost every way," Gingrich said.
"Caution cannot become disengagement because our enemies fill the vacuum. ISIS fighters are capturing more and more Iraqi cities.
"We need a new strategy that is not benign neglect."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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