The United States will deploy one of its naval aircraft carriers to the Gulf to give President Barack Obama military options in light of the situation in Iraq, CNN quoted a U.S. official as saying, as the government in Baghdad bolstered the capital’s defenses against any possible attack by al-Qaeda inspired militants.
The U.S. official told CNN that Washington plans to move the George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier to provide the American president with options for possible airstrikes.
Obama on Friday set the bar high for U.S. military involvement in Iraq, where a string of areas have fallen to militants belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, ruling out the possibility of putting U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq.
But the U.S. leader did say he was considering a range of other options drawn up by the Pentagon.
The Associated Press (AP) quoted administration officials as saying the options Obama was considering are strikes using drones or manned aircrafts, as well as boosts in surveillance and intelligence gathering, including satellite coverage and other monitoring efforts.
The Baghdad government is facing a growing insurgency led by ISIS militants who this week seized a number of areas including Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, and vowed to advance on the capital.
Fighters under the black flag of ISIL are sweeping toward the capital in a campaign to recreate a mediaeval caliphate carved out of fragmenting Iraq and Syria, Reuters news agency said.
The government has bolstered the capital’s defenses.
“We put in place a new plan to protect Baghdad,” Interior Ministry spokesman Brigadier General Saad Maan told AFP Friday.
“The plan consists of intensifying the deployment of forces, and increasing intelligence efforts and the use of technology such as [observation] balloons and cameras and other equipment,” Maan said.
U.S. intelligence agencies assess that Baghdad is unlikely to fall, according to officials who were briefed on the matter but could not be quoted by name because the briefings were classified, the Associated Press reported.
Source: AP; AFP; Reuters