House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce blamed the Obama administration for the refugee crisis in the Middle East, saying that U.S.-led airstrikes a year ago would have stopped the Islamic State from seizing land that has caused Syrians to flee their homes.
"The question is what could we do at the source to turn back ISIS?" the California Republican asked Brianna Keilar on CNN
. "They have expanded from their original encampment."
Over the last year, Royce said, both Republicans and Democrats have "asked the president of the United States to allow the use of air power to suppress ISIS before it began to overtake cities.
"We went a full year with the administration rejecting calls from some in the Pentagon, from us, and certainly from the ambassador in Baghdad, for airstrikes before they took these 14 major cities," he said. "Even today, three-quarters of the planes that take off return without being able to drop their ordnances, because they cannot get approval from Washington, from the lawyers in Washington, to strike these ISIS targets.
"This is not being handled well, and this idea they are a JV team is not correct," Royce said, referring to President Barack Obama's description of ISIS last year in a "Meet the Press" interview. "They're actually forcing people in terror to flee from the region."
ISIS terrorists, who control large parts of Syria's northern and eastern provinces, have expanded into the center and south, instilling terror and committing crimes against humanity, U.N. war crimes investigators said Thursday
The scope of the crisis spiraled on Wednesday with the image of a dead Syrian toddler
washing up on a Turkish beach after a migrant boat sank. The photograph went viral.
"What we really need to step up is the offensive attacks on ISIS," Royce told CNN. "This will just continue to compound unless we find the will to figure out a strategy to use our airpower against ISIS in a way that is very effective."
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