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Top US Senate Intel Republican Undecided on US Strikes in Iraq

Jul. 2, 2014 - 03:45AM   |  
By JOHN T. BENNETT   |   Comments
Senate Intelligence Committee Holds Closing Hearin
Sen. Saxby Chambliss, Intelligence Committee vice chairman, said he is uncertain if US military strikes in Iraq are wise. (Drew Angerer/ / Getty Images)
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WASHINGTON — The top Republican on the US Senate Intelligence Committee remains unconvinced that the United States should launch air strikes in Iraq against a violent Sunni group.

As the Obama administration is sending nearly 800 US forces to Iraq to assist that country’s fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), many Republican lawmakers are loudly calling for US military action.

Senate Republicans like Armed Services Committee members Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina say President Barack Obama already should have used US military force in Iraq — and in Syria against Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

“An effective strategy must recognize that Syria and Iraq have now become one integrated battlefield, and that we must change the balance of power on the ground against both Assad’s forces and [ISIL] if there is to be any chance of achieving a negotiated settlement to the conflict in Syria and positive political change in Iraq,” McCain and Graham said last week in a statement.

“We are not advocating the commitment of ground combat troops to either Syria or Iraq,” the duo said. “Instead, an effective strategy could include, among other actions, the provision of anti-air capabilities to moderate opposition forces in Syria so they can defeat Assad’s use of barrel bombs and other indiscriminate air power, [and] helping our Syrian partners establish humanitarian safe zones.”

McCain and Graham also are advocating for “airstrikes against [ISIL] bases and other targets in Syria and Iraq, while we take steps to improve intelligence collection and exert our influence to bring about political change in Baghdad.”

Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., told CongressWatch last week, however, that he remains undecided about US strikes in Iraq.

“It’s such a moving target over there that I think” the decision to launch strikes “should be dictated by what’s going on on the ground,” Chambliss said before Congress left for a July 4 recess.

“It depends on what they think they’re going to strike and how much collateral damage.”

Email: jbennett@defensenews.com.

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