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- Syrian casualties surge as jihadis consolidate
There's nothing centrist about the senior senator from Virginia
Topic - Iraqi Military
The Pentagon came as close as it has to date on Thursday to identifying a red line that would need to be crossed for the Obama administration to justify an aggressive U.S. military attack on the al Qaeda-inspired extremists who have declared a new Islamic state spanning the border between Syria and Iraq.
Iraqi troops backed by helicopter gunships launched an operation early Saturday aimed at dislodging Sunni militants from the northern city of Tikrit, one of two major urban centers they seized in recent weeks in a dramatic blitz across the country.
The surge of an al Qaeda splinter group in Iraq over the past month has depended heavily on support from more secular Sunni factions in the nation, which challenges the Obama administration's policy of making distinctions between extremists and moderate militants in the region.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told lawmakers Wednesday that two entire Iraqi military divisions — roughly 60,000 troops — once trained by U.S. soldiers, simply dissolved in northern Iraq last week and in some cases even joined forces with advancing Sunni extremists militants in the nation.
The Sunni extremist militants rampaging through northern Iraq faced fierce gunbattles against forces aligned with Iraq's Shiite prime minister roughly 40 miles northeast of Baghdad on Tuesday, as evidence emerged of mounting sectarian and reprisal violence between the nation's divided Muslim populations.
Robert Reynolds chokes up when asked to recall what it was like to be among U.S. forces who routed al Qaeda-linked fighters from the western Iraqi city of Fallujah a decade ago.
The Obama administration's decision to provide drones and accelerate shipments of U.S. missiles to Iraq to help in the fight against resurgent al Qaeda-linked extremists added a fresh layer of complexity Monday to an already difficult relationship between Washington and the Shiite Muslim-dominated government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
The U.S. has inserted 200 troops in Iraq since 2012, but they cannot directly help the Iraqi military repel a surge of al Qaeda fighters, even as the country succumbs to sectarian violence and insurgents claim control of two key cities.
After billions of dollars and nearly nine years of training, U.S. troops are leaving behind an Iraqi security force arguably capable of providing internal security but unprepared to defend the nation against foreign threats at a time of rising tensions throughout the Middle East.
Iraq's most senior military official warned Wednesday that the planned pullout of U.S. forces at the end of next year might be premature, as the White House said it was keeping to its schedule for removing troops from the war-torn country.