Allies may join the US in airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq, according to a US congressman. Above is a UK Tornado GR4, which performs strike and attack roles. (RAF image/ / Crown Copyright)
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WASHINGTON — The American military may be joined by some familiar allies in its fight against a violent Sunni group in Iraq, says a senior US lawmaker.
Under orders from President Barack Obama, US warplanes have been striking Islamic State targets in northern Iraq for several weeks. Obama administration officials and security experts say what Obama has described as “targeted” and “limited” airstrikes might last months — or longer.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., says US fighter, bomber and armed drone aircraft soon could be joined by warplanes from some of Washington’s closest allies.
“There are about 100 ISIS fighters with US passports. And, as you’ve heard, there are probably 150 from Australia and over 1,000 from [Europe]. And so this is a concern,” Royce said Wednesday on CNN.
“I think this is what is driving the US, Turkey, Australia, Britain to look at, potentially, joint operations with respect to airpower against [Islamic State] targets,” Royce said.
He also joined a growing number of members who want Obama to hold off on striking Islamic State targets in Syria until both chambers of Congress have voted on a new authorization for use of military force (AUMF) measure.
“I think under The War Powers Act, it would require congressional authorization,” Royce said. “I think the administration would have to come forward with a plan.”
It remains unclear what airframes Obama may send into Syrian airspace to hit Islamic State targets. Royce has an idea.
“They might be able to do this with armed drone attacks,” he said. “I say that because that was very effective in Yemen against al-Qaida and in Pakistan against al-Qaida.” ■