clear
Sunday May 3rd, 2015 11:58AM

US shifts focus away from Iraq airstrikes

By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama has shifted his focus away from airstrikes in Iraq as an imminent option for slowing a fast-moving Islamic insurgency, in part because there are few clear targets that U.S. could hit, officials said.<br /> <br /> Officials said Obama has made no final decisions and could ultimately approve limited strikes if stronger targets emerge. The CIA and other spy agencies are scrambling to close intelligence gaps in the region and track the movements of key figures in the militant group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, which seized Mosul, Tikrit and other towns in Iraq as the country's military melted away.<br /> <br /> The president summoned top congressional leaders to the White House Wednesday afternoon to discuss the collapsing security situation. The relentless violence marks the greatest threat to Iraq's stability since the U.S. military withdrew at the end of 2011 after more than eight years of war.<br /> <br /> Ahead of his meeting at the White House, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the U.S. had no business sending American troops into the midst of what he called Iraq's civil war.<br /> <br /> "It's time for the Iraqis to resolve it themselves," said Reid, a Nevada Democrat. Taking on Republicans who have blamed the current violence on the withdrawal of U.S. forces, Reid said, "Those who attack President Obama for bringing our troops home from Iraq are wrong and out of step with the American people. After a decade of war, the American people have had enough. American families have had enough."<br /> <br /> Obama has ruled out returning combat troops to Iraq in order to quell the insurgency. However, he has notified Congress that up to 275 armed U.S. forces are being positioned in and around Iraq to provide support and security for U.S. interests.<br /> <br /> Officials have said Obama is also considering sending a small contingent of special operations forces to help train the Iraqi military. Other options under consideration in include boosting Iraq's intelligence about the militants and more broadly, encouraging the Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad to become more inclusive.<br /> <br /> The U.S. has also made initial overtures to its long-time foe Iran, which has an interest in seeing the Iraqi government survive, though officials have ruled out the possibility of military cooperation with Tehran.<br /> <br /> House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Wednesday that he opposed outreach to Iran because it sends the wrong message to American allies in the Middle East given that the Islamic republic is alleged to have sponsored terrorism in the region. Boehner is among the leaders who will meet with Obama at the White House.<br /> <br /> The most aggressive option under consideration at the White House has been airstrikes, most likely by drones, though officials have also looked at the possibility of launching strikes from manned aircrafts. However, at this point, officials have been unable to identify clear targets the U.S. could hit in Iraq that could slow the militants' momentum.<br /> <br /> Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Wednesday that the U.S. does have a request from the Iraqi government for the Obama administration to use air power to stop the militants.<br /> <br /> So far it's unclear whether the CIA and the NSA have been able to locate the top insurgent figures, such as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the ISIL's leader. Baghdadi, who was released in 2009 after spending four years in U.S. military custody in southern Iraq, came away with an appreciation of American monitoring technology that made him an elusive target once he took command, said Richard Zahner, a retired Army general and former senior NSA official.<br /> <br /> Intelligence agencies have been tracking the ISIL for years, officials say, watching closely as it grew stronger in the Syrian civil war and began to challenge the Shiite-dominated Baghdad government.<br /> <br /> The CIA and other agencies are assembling detailed dossiers known as "targeting packages" that amount to profiles of insurgent commanders, including as much day-to-day information as can be gathered about their location, movements, associates and communications. Those packages can be used to target subjects for drone strikes or other military action, though they also can be used for nonlethal purposes, current and former officials say.<br /> <br /> The officials would not be quoted by name because they were not authorized to discuss the classified details publicly.<br /> <br /> -<br /> <br /> Associated Press writers Bradley Klapper, Alan Fram and Donna Cassata contributed to this report.
© Copyright 2015 AccessNorthGa.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Judge denies motions to move, delay Tsarnaev trial
Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to overturn a judge's decision to not move his upcoming trial out of state.
10:02PM ( 4 months ago )
High court to adopt electronic filing of cases
The Supreme Court is belatedly developing an electronic filing system similar to those used in courts around the country, Chief Justice John Roberts said Wednesday in his annual end-of-year report.
7:57PM ( 4 months ago )
Storm brings snow, cold to West for New Year's
A blustery winter storm dumped snow and ice across the West on Wednesday, making driving treacherous in the mountains from California to the Rockies and forcing residents and party-goers in some usually sun-soaked cities to bundle up for a frosty New Year's.
5:19PM ( 4 months ago )
U.S. News
Grass fire impacts rush hour traffic on 985
Rush hour traffic on I-985 was slowed by a grass fire Wednesay afternoon with one lane closed while firefighters fought the blaze.
10:19PM ( 4 months ago )
Hall County conviction, sentencing to be reviewed by SCOGA
The State Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of a Hall County man when they reconvene in January.
2:37PM ( 4 months ago )
Local/State News
Committee leaves transportation funding to lawmakers
Georgia will have to cover a $1 billion to $1.5 billion transportation funding gap to stay economically competitive, a committee of lawmakers is warning in a report issued Tuesday.
5:36AM ( 4 months ago )
US off war footing at year's end, but wars go on
Taking America off a permanent war footing is proving harder than President Barack Obama may have suggested.
6:13PM ( 4 months ago )
GOP leader regrets talk to white supremacists; party leaders rally around him
House Republican leaders rallied around one of their own, Whip Steve Scalise, on Tuesday after he said he regrets speaking 12 years ago to a white supremacist organization and condemns the views of such groups.
6:08PM ( 4 months ago )
Politics
Obama again avoids calling 1915 Armenian killings 'genocide'
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama will once again stop short of calling the 1915 massacre of Armenians a genocide, prompting anger and disappointment from those who have been pushing him to ful...
1:00PM ( 1 week ago )
Ex-NFL star Hernandez convicted of murder, sentenced to life
FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) — Former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison Wednesday for a deadly late-night shooting, sealing the d...
8:54PM ( 2 weeks ago )
Clinton kicks off 2016 campaign online, heads next to Iowa
WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton jumped back into presidential politics on Sunday, making a much-awaited announcement she will again seek the White House with a promise to serve as the "champi...
7:56PM ( 2 weeks ago )
Hall, White, Jefferson schools recognized nationally for use of technology
Three school districts in northeast Georgia - Hall, White, and Jefferson - have received national recognition for their use use of innovative technologies. They earned top spots in the Center for Digital Education's and the National School Boards Association's 10th annual Digital School Districts Survey.
By Staff
1:00PM ( 2 weeks ago )
US Capitol lockdown lifted after man fatally shoots himself
WASHINGTON (AP) — A precautionary lockdown of the U.S. Capitol was lifted after about two hours Saturday following a suicide by a man carrying a protest sign.The man died after shooting himself on the...
6:15PM ( 3 weeks ago )