- The Washington Times - Monday, September 29, 2014

Rep. Ed Royce, California Republican and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said providing weapons to religious minority groups battling the Islamic State in Iraq is one way to combat the terrorist group — even if it means going around the Iraqi government.

“I think we need to circumvent Baghdad,” he said on CNN’s “New Day.” “Do not be deferential to the government in Baghdad, but instead insist that the weapons needed to defend the Kurdish people and the other religious minorities get into their hands.”

“If you allow Baghdad to exercise [its] veto, they will not allow those weapons to be transferred to those ethnic minorities,” he said. “The times comes when you just have to lead and be insistent on a course of action that is going to stop the ISIS advance.”

Mr. Royce said Congress is supportive of arming such religious groups because “we’re not [supportive] of the idea of putting the 82nd Airborne in there.”

In addition to bombing Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria, Congress has signed off on the United States’ training and equipping rebel forces in Syria to combat the group, also known as ISIS or ISIL. Mr. Royce said if the United States needs to expand the scope of the fight, it will.

“But where we don’t want this to go is the 82nd Airborne being deployed into that region,” he said. “We’ve got a very real alternative … arm the Kurds, arm the Christians, arm the Yazidis, arm those Sunnis who want to resist ISIS. It is their battle — give them the tools and the air support that we should be providing.”

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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