Lawmakers recently expressed optimism about U.S. airstrikes on military targets held by the unrecognized Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Iraq and questioned whether more could have been done earlier.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said that ISIS, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), has taken actions toward Christians, Kurds and other religious minorities that constitute a clear humanitarian crisis. He also said that redeploying troops to Iraq was not an option.
“It is tragic that the president did not act earlier, when I suggested he use armed drones to prevent many of these atrocities,” Royce said. “Now it’s a tougher challenge, with limited options such as air strikes to prevent the slaughter of these innocent people.”
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, said he was “cautiously optimistic” that President Obama was taking seriously “the march of violent extremism in Iraq.”
“However, these announced actions will not turn the tide against ISIL,” Kinzinger said. “Unless the United States broadens our mission to include degradation of ISIL forces and supplies, this threat will only continue to grow and pose an even greater threat to our national security.”
House Homeland Security Committee Vice Chairwoman Rep. Candice Miller (R-Mich.) said Christian communities in Iraq have suffered “near genocide” at the hands of Islamic extremists.
“Thousands unwilling to convert to Islam and pay religious taxes have been forced to flee their homes,” Miller said. “Many have been brutally slaughtered. It is barbaric, and, thus far, only the Kurds have stepped up to help the Christian refugees facing certain death.”
Miller said she supported the decision to provide military assistance through limited, targeted airstrikes against the extremist opposition.
“We must stop the immediate advancement of these violent Islamist militants to protect U.S. personnel and Christian refugees,” Miller said. “I also want to express my gratitude to the brave men and women with the U.S. forces that are embarking on this dangerous and noble mission.”