News / Middle East

US Committed to Iraq, Accelerating Weapons, Drone Deliveries

An Iraqi riot police officer flashes the V-sign as his unit returns to its headquarters from clashes between Iraqi army and al-Qaida fighters Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, Jan. 5, 2014.
An Iraqi riot police officer flashes the V-sign as his unit returns to its headquarters from clashes between Iraqi army and al-Qaida fighters Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, Jan. 5, 2014.
The White House said Monday that the United States will remain strongly committed to Iraq as it fights al-Qaida affiliated groups, but it said, again, that American troops will not return to Iraq.  

The surge in fighting between Iraqi government forces and al-Qaida-linked militants is a concern to the United States, which is accelerating the delivery of air to ground Hellfire missiles to Baghdad.

Amid the mounting death toll in Iraq, the U.S. has urged Iraq's government to work with tribal leaders in mostly Sunni Anbar province and with national political leaders, to isolate al-Qaida elements.

Fallujah, IraqFallujah, Iraq
Fallujah, Iraq
Fallujah, Iraq
On Monday, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki urged residents of Fallujah to expel militants who are part of the al-Qaida-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said it's up to Iraqis to take the lead, both in the fighting on the ground and what he called this "holistic" strategy to isolate militants, as the U.S. speeds up the delivery of weapons.

"We are accelerating our foreign military sales deliveries and are looking to provide an additional shipment of Hellfire missiles as early as this spring.  These missiles are one small element of that holistic strategy but they have proven effective at denying ISIL the safe haven zones that it has sought to establish in western Iraq," said Carney.

At the Pentagon, spokesman Colonel Steve Warren pointed to some success in isolating al-Qaida affiliated groups.

“We've seen some early success along these lines in Ramadi.  Tribal forces and police, with the Iraqi army providing overwatch, appear to have isolated the ISIL in pockets of the city.  It's still early, however," said Warren.

Other U.S. assistance to Iraq will include 10 surveillance drones to help Iraqi forces track terrorists and 48 low altitude unmanned vehicles scheduled for delivery later in the year.

White House spokesman Carney also was asked about President Obama's reaction to some Senate Republicans who blamed the deterioration in Iraq on the withdrawal of U.S. forces.

"If members were suggesting that there should be American troops fighting and dying in Fallujah today, they should say so," he said.

Carney said there was violent sectarian conflict in Iraq even when U.S. forces there numbered 150,000.

The connection between the deterioration in Iraq and a potential similar scenario in Afghanistan is an uncomfortable one for the administration and members of Congress, after years of bloodshed and great financial costs.

The U.S. has been waiting for a final Afghan signature on a Bilateral Security Agreement.  President Hamid Karzai has so far refused to sign, although the document was approved by Afghanistan's council of tribal elders, the Loya Jirga.

Jay Carney repeated that the U.S. and NATO would be unable to plan for a post-2014 troop presence, including a training and counter-terrorism role for some U.S. forces, unless the document is signed.

He said this is a matter of weeks not months and that if the agreement is not concluded promptly, the U.S. and its allies will be forced to initiate planning for a future without U.S. or NATO troops in Afghanistan.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syriai
November 26, 2015 5:21 AM
Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs