US steps up military preparations over Iraq

By Uhrra June 16, 2014 16:18

US steps up military preparations over Iraq

The US secretary of state has said his country is considering drone strikes in Iraq and is open to cooperation with Iran, as more US ships sailed towards the Gulf to deal with lightning advances by Sunni fighters.

John Kerry on Monday said drone strikes were “not the whole answer” to the takeover of large parts of northern Iraq by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in the north of Iraq. However, he said that they could be “one of the options that are important”.

“When you have people murdering, assassinating in these mass massacres, you have to stop that. And you do what you need to do if you need to try to stop it from the air or otherwise.”

When asked if the US was willing to work with Iran to save Baghdad’s government, Kerry said his country would “not rule out anything that would be constructive”.

“Let’s see what Iran might or might not be willing to do before we start making any pronouncements,” he said in the interview with Yahoo news.

Kerry’s comments came as Chuck Hagel, the US defence secretary, ordered the amphibious transport, the USS Mesa Verde, to the Gulf.

The Mesa Verde can carry up to 800 US Marines, their equipment and aircraft such as the Osprey helicopter / plane hybrid and Sea Knight helicopters.

John Kirby, the Pentagon’s spokesman, said the Mesa Verde had already joined up with the carrier strike group led by the aircraft carrier, the USS George HW Bush.

Al Jazeera’s James Bays, reporting from New York, said the Iraq crisis was expected to be discussed with Iran on the sidelines of the nuclear talks in Vienna on Monday.

“The Iranian foreign minister will be there, as well as the US deputy secretary of state,” said Bays. “Iran and the US are deeply concerned about Iraq.”

Rebels make more gains

On Monday, ISIL fighters captured Tal Afar, a strategic city along the highway to Syria, moving closer to their goal of linking areas under their control on both sides of the border.

A resident in Tal Afar, 420km northwest of Iraqi capital, Baghdad, said over the telephone that the rebels in pick-up trucks mounted with machine guns and flying black ISIL banners were roaming the streets, as gunfire rang out.

Al Jazeera’s Hoda Abdel-Hamid reporting from the northern town of Khazer said Tal Afar represented one of the last strongholds for the Baghdad government.

The fall of Tal Afar comes a week after rebels captured Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, and Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit in a lightening offensive.


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By Uhrra June 16, 2014 16:18

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