Concerned about the growing violence in Iraq and threats it poses for US personnel and assets, US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel has underlined that the US military will remain ready to conduct targeted airstrikes, provide humanitarian assistance and aid Iraqi forces fighting terrorist belonging to the Sunni jihadist outfit, the Islamic State.
“The US military will also remain ready to conduct targeted airstrikes, if necessary, to help forces in Iraq fighting to break the siege of Mount Sinjar and protect Iraqi civilians trapped there,” Hagel said in a statement released on August 8. Hagel is currently in India on a three-day visit that is aimed at galvanising India-US defence ties.
He added that the military is prepared to conduct airstrikes against Islamic terrorists if they approach the city of Erbil, the capital for Kurdistan.
The statement was released after the announcement by US President Barak Obama on August 7 that he had given the go ahead for “limited” airstrikes on Iraq. The limited airstrikes are meant to protect American interests and provide humanitarian aid to minorities fleeing the expanding reach of the IS.
Hagel has also indicated that a more sustainable support may be provided to Iraq once it forms a new government.
“Department of Defence personnel in Iraq therefore continue to assess opportunities to help train, advise, and assist Iraqi forces, and will provide increased support once Iraq has formed a new government,” he added.
Iraq faces an August 8 Constitutional deadline by when the newly-elected President Fuad Ma’soum must nominate a prime minister, who would then give shape to a new Government.
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