The United States could soon be back in combat in Iraq. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said on Tuesday that the US is thinking of increasing its attacks on ISIS through more ground action and airstrikes.
Carter has informed the Senate Armed Services Committee that the US “won’t hold back” from supporting partners carrying out such attacks or from “conducting such missions directly, whether by strikes from the air or direct action on the ground”. However, the White House is yet to decide on the options for upping the campaign against the ISIS. Further involvement on the ground is currently being weighed.
Carter also says there is a need to increase pressure around the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa in Syria. “We will support moderate Syrian forces” fighting the terror organization there, he adds. In Ramadi, the capital of Iraq’s Anbar province, the US will provide assistance and fire support to local Iraqi forces to take on ISIS.
However many GOP senators have blasted Carter for his statements, and also the Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford, who testified too. Sen. Lindsey Graham from South Carolina said, “This is a half-assed strategy at best”. Lindsey is a Republican presidential candidate.
Graham and committee Chairman John McCain of Arizona peppered Carter with questions about how the US would protect forces as Russia carries out airstrikes that have been hitting forces opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. McCain asked, “Are we going to protect them from being barrel bombed by Bashar Assad and from Russia”?
Carter responded by saying that no US forces have come under attack from Russian forces. However McCain disagreed, saying that “You will have to correct the record. I promise you they have”.
Russia is supporting the Syria leader Assad’s regime. The country is currently bombing ISIS bases in Syria, and allowing the Syrian forces to make forces under cover. The west is against Moscow’s military intervention in the country. The US has said that Russia seems more focused on protecting Assad than stopping ISIS.