‘We need air support’
With the militant rise continuing to overtake cities in Iraq, the country’s government is now requesting air support from the United States to help counter the Sunni rebels.
Over the past two weeks, insurgents, led by fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), have been taking over cities and most recently battled their way onto the country’s biggest oil refinery.
The request to the US for support is seen by some as a disappointment for the US government who, after beginning to withdraw troops last year, had spent trillions of dollars on attempting to protect the country following the fall of Saddam Hussein.
General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the US military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, gave no direct reply in regard to whether the country would adhere to the request of Iraq’s Shi’ite-led government.
“We have a request from the Iraqi government for air power,” Dempsey said at a Senate hearing in Washington.
When further questioned and asked whether the United States should honour that request, he continued: “It is in our national security interest to counter ISIL wherever we find them.”
US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Iraqi request had included drone strikes and increased surveillance by US drones, which have been flying over Iraq for some time.
In the Saudi city of Jeddah, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said Baghdad had asked for airstrikes ‘to break the morale’ of ISIL.
Meanwhile, Iraq's ally, Shi'ite Muslim power Iran, had so far not intervened to help the Baghdad government.
The dispute in Iraq has caused tremors across the world, with a number of countries now effected by the recent Sunni rebel uprising.
In the UK, Prime Minister David Cameron said that ISIL was plotting terror attacks on Britain, whilst India confirmed that 40 of its citizens had been kidnapped in the violence-hit city of Mosul.
Turkey is also investigating reports that 15 Turkish builders were abducted by the insurgents on Tuesday, following on from the 80 Turks who were kidnapped in Mosul last week.