Rep. Royce: US 'Too Reticent' to Use Drone Strikes in Iraq

Monday, 16 Jun 2014 09:47 AM

By Wanda Carruthers

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The United States lost a valuable opportunity to stem the advancement of the militant insurgents of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) by being "too reticent" to use drone strikes, said Rep. Ed Royce.

The insurgents have stormed through Iraq over the past few months, overtaking the cities of Mosul, Tikrit, and Tal Afar. President Barack Obama on Friday said he was assessing the situation and possible involvement by the United States, but ruled out sending troops back into combat in Iraq.

"I think we've been too reticent here, and we've waited too long, because they have taken some major positions in the interim," the California Republican, who chairs the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Monday.

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"For some time now, we have been hearing of the encampment of thousands of these al-Qaida offshoot jihadists. And when we have them in our sights, or when we have them moving from town to town on the march, then is the time to hit them," he added.

Since pulling out all forces from Iraq in 2011, the United States had allowed al-Qaida to "reconstitute itself in western Iraq," Royce said. He called it a "blunder" for failing to act over the past several months when ISIS "moved from city to city unencumbered."

Royce said the Iraqis were "much more supportive of [an] inclusive attitude" among the different tribal factions than the one provided by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. He said that attitude of the Iraqis provided "enormous leverage" for the United States to effect change.

While promoting the idea of airstrikes on the insurgents, Royce said definitively "you will not" see U.S. troops in Iraq.

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