President Obama is considering a targeted, highly selective campaign of airstrikes against Sunni militants in Iraq, the New York Times reported today. Such campaign would use drones and could last for a prolonged period, an official told the Times. But the strikes, if ordered, would be limited in scope and planned not to cause casualties among the civilians. The ISIL-led insurgents intermingle with civilian population in Mosul, Tikrit and other cities where they operate. Gathering adequate intelligence about the locations of the insurgents would be the key first step, making the air strikes not likely to begin for days or longer.
Notwithstanding any limited air strikes against the ISIL, President Obama is continuing to emphasize an internal political solution to the problems. The United States is also consulting with regional countries, including Iran, on various diplomatic options.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon spokesman said there were signs that the advance by ISIL-led insurgents toward Baghdad has slowed down.
“We’re seeing indications, certainly, that Iraqi security forces in and around Baghdad are stiffening themselves,” said Rear Adm. John F. Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary. “They’re being assisted by Shia militia members. And it certainly appears as if they have the will to defend the capital.” (NYTimes, 18 June)
File photo: ISIL fighters in Iraq