American fighters begin reconnaissance flights over Iraq

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American F-18 fighter from the aircraft carrier “George Herbert Walker Bush” in the Persian Gulf began to fly reconnaissance missions over Iraq. This was reported on Wednesday TV “Fox News.” According to its sources in the Pentagon, one of the goals of these flights is to demonstrate US commitment to decisive action on the situation in Iraq.

“It is not that important to see something, but to be seen,” said the representative of the US military. He stressed that the F-18 are exactly fighter planes.

Broadcaster said that US President Barack Obama is currently considering various options regarding “extending assistance in the sphere of security” to Iraq. As the representative of the Obama administration explained, one of the main options, in particular, is the ability to send 100 special units soldiers to the region. It is assumed that they can help the Iraqi authorities in intelligence activities, as well as the training of troops.

The situation in Iraq deteriorated sharply early last week after Sunni militants groups “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” ISIL and loyal to them local radical formations began an offensive on a number of towns in the north of the country, fully capturing the province of Nineveh. Receding from positions was contributed to inaction of security forces and the army, which left the city, leaving locals and warehouses with arms for radical Islamists.

Earlier Wednesday, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs Armed Forces, General Martin Dempsey said the US received a request of the Iraqi government for air strikes on militant positions of groups of ISIL. According to him, Washington has not yet taken on this account any decision.

US needs more intelligence data to decide on strikes in Iraq – General Martin Dempsey

The United States received a request from the Iraqi government regarding the air strikes on militant positions of “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (ISIL) group, but have not yet made the decision about that. This was announced today at a hearing in the US Congress by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs (JCS) of the US Armed Forces, General Martin Dempsey. “The Government of Iraq asked us to use the military aircraft “to eliminate terrorists who seized a considerable part of the country,” said Dempsey.

“Fight against militants of ISIL, wherever they may be, is in the interests of our national security,” said the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaking in one of the committees of the Senate – reports ITAR-TASS.

At the same time, he noted that the decision on this issue could only be made by the US President. In the meantime, no decision has been made, in particular, due to the fact that situation in Iraq is changing rapidly, fighting continues in various parts of the country, and in some cities the control was passed from one opposing side to the other. In this regard, it is quite difficult to determine the position of the ISIL, which could be used for the air strike.

“Until we have more accurate intelligence information, we will have to develop and refine the various action plans. And then the president will be able to make a decision,” said Dempsey.

Speaking at the hearing, the US Defense Chuck Hagel also noted that his office, along with the JCS “continues to explore the question of what options are available and what the situation” in Iraq is. “As was stated by the President (Barack Obama) the possibility of air strikes is not ruled out, but such step must be justified “from a military point of view,” said the head of the Pentagon.

Earlier today, the head of the Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said his government appealed to the US Administration to request airstrikes on militant positions of ISIL. The United States can do this from the aircraft carrier “George Herbert Walker Bush,” which can be directed to the Persian Gulf, or by submarines equipped with missiles, which are located in the same place. The option of using unmanned aerial vehicles, which are used in Afghanistan and Pakistan against “al-Qaeda” and “Taliban” are also being considered.

At the hearings officials have also discussed the quantity of ISIL, which has been divided from “Al-Qaeda” back in time (earlier this Sunni group was even called “Al-Qaeda in Iraq)” and proclaimed the goal of creating an Islamic caliphate in Syria and Iraq. Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Dianne Feinstein said she talked with the Iraqi ambassador to Washington on Tuesday, and he thinks that ISIL consists of about 20 thousand people. According to him, 10 thousand of them are directly part of ISIL, while the other 10 thousand are part of “different Sunni extremists, members of tribes and foreign fighters.”

In response, Dempsey said that he believes that the information of Iraqi ambassador is “perhaps overstated.” However, he refused to give his own estimates, explaining that he had seen information on the number of ISIL only in secret documents and cannot openly talk about it. At the same time he said that, according to the United States, the militants of this group are concentrated in three main areas: the east of Syria, around the Iraqi cities of Fallujah and Ramadi in the central part of the country, as well as in northern Iraq. In addition, the head of the JCS confirmed that there are other extremist groups fighting on the side of ISIL that are disgruntled with the government in Baghdad for different reasons. “It is practically impossible to distinguish them right now,” said Dempsey.

The situation in Iraq deteriorated sharply since early last week after Sunni fighters of ISIL and loyal to them other radical groups began an offensive on a number of towns in the north of the country, fully capturing the province of Nineveh. Full inaction of military forces and army contributed to the surrender as they have left the city, giving locals and warehouses with arms to the radical Islamists.

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