The Pentagon is reportedly moving the aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush into the Persian Gulf to provide US President Obama with options for possible airstrikes against al-Qaeda-linked militants in Iraq.
Sat Jun 14, 2014 2:24AM GMT
The United States has positioned its military equipment in the Middle East to launch possible airstrikes against al-Qaeda-linked militants in Iraq at a 24-hour notice, former American military officials say.
On Friday, President Barack Obama that the US “will not be sending US troops back into combat in Iraq, but I have asked my national security team to prepare a range of other options that could help support Iraq’s security forces.”
Several retired US Air Force officials told The Daily Beast on Friday that any airstrikes, if ordered, could begin almost immediately.
“If you can provide me with the appropriate intelligence we can start doing (air strikes) within 24 hours,” said Lt. Gen. David Deptula, who served as the Air Force’s first deputy chief of staff for intelligence.
“There are a variety of means do this, whether you are talking about long-range, high-payload aircraft or smaller aircraft. With the requisite intelligence information you can start again in 24 hours,” he added.
The Pentagon is reportedly moving the aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush into the Persian Gulf to provide Obama with options for possible airstrikes against the militants from the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) that have captured two provincial capitals this week, namely Tikrit in Salahuddin Province and Mosul in the northern province of Nineveh.
The aircraft carrier has dozens of fighter jets on board.
Moreover, the US air bases near Iraq have dozens of more fighters and bombers.
“No question we could strike anytime,” said another senior retired Air Force officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
He said that the US could also divert its assets from Afghanistan to Iraq.
Over the past days, Iraqi armed forces have been engaged in fierce clashes with terrorists, who have threatened to take their acts of violence to other Iraqi cities, including the capital Baghdad.
Takfiri groups, including the so-called ISIL, are reportedly coming to Iraq from neighboring Syria and Saudi Arabia to undermine security in the country.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has recently said authorities will arm citizens in Nineveh and other regions to fight militants.
Iraqi men from all walks of life are flocking to recruitment centers to join the army in its fight against the ISIL extremists.
Maliki has blamed Saudi Arabia and Qatar for the security crisis and growing terrorism in his country, denouncing Riyadh as a major supporter of global terrorism.