Pressure Mounts to Expand Airstrikes Against ISIS in Iraq

Thursday, 21 Aug 2014 01:13 PM

By Drew MacKenzie

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Pressure is building on President Barack Obama and within the Pentagon to intensify airstrikes against Islamic extremist targets in Iraq following the beheading of American journalist James Foley.

The Military Times is reporting that senior officers at Central Command, which controls military operations in the Middle East, have called on the Pentagon to expand the list of possible target sites, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The expanded list does not necessarily imply that the U.S. military would be able to bomb more Islamic State (ISIS) positions right away, but it would give commanders in the region more options, an official told Military Times.

Meanwhile, members of Congress, appearing on Newsmax TV, have suggested Congress would back a more aggressive strategy in dealing with the Islamic State.

Rep. Ted Poe, a Texas Republican, told Newsmax TV's "America's Forum" on Wednesday that the murder of Foley, which was revealed online in a horrifying video from the Islamic State, should encourage Congress to take more action.

"Congress may be more proactive in its authority in foreign affairs and encouraging the president to specifically go after this terrorist organization called ISIS," said Poe.

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Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin warned that if Obama doesn't come up with a strategy to exterminate the Islamic State, the United States is in imminent danger of jihadists carrying out terror acts on American soil.

"President Obama declared about a year ago that the war on terror is over. It is not over," Johnson told "America's Forum" on Thursday.

"ISIS is not war-weary. This is a direct threat to the United States and to American citizens, and we just saw that in the brutal execution of Jim Foley," Johnson said. "We need a president that recognizes the reality; fully engaged, on the job, leading and assembling this coalition of the willing to defeat ISIS."

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There have been 84 raids by U.S. fighter jets and drones in Iraq in the past two weeks, and on Wednesday U.S. aircraft carried out 14 airstrikes near the dam in Mosul in northern Iraq, according to the Pentagon, the Military Times said.

Rockets hit six Humvees that militants had seized from Iraqi security forces, which had previously been receiving arms from the U.S. government. Two armed trucks and three roadside bomb positions were also struck.

Earlier this week, Kurdish troops and Iraqi forces recaptured the key Mosul dam, but are now also taking back areas around it from the jihadists, the Pentagon told the Military Times.

The request for more raids was revealed a day after Republican Sen. John McCain called for a dramatic increase in U.S. airstrikes against the Islamic State, and said the attacks should also extend into Syria.

"First of all, you've got to dramatically increase the airstrikes. And those airstrikes have to be devoted to Syria as well," the Arizona senator said.


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