On Monday U.S officials confirmed that the administration has widened its campaign against ISIS, also known as the Islamic State and ISIL, in Iraq.
In the latest round of violence U.S. Central Command said it conducted airstrikes in support of the Iraqi forces southwest of Baghdad. There was also an airstrike Sunday near Sinjar in the north of the country.
Until now President Obama has limited American airstrikes only to protect U.S. interests and personnel but now the military are carrying out much broader airstrikes in order to assist Iraqi refugees and secure critical infrastructure. Monday’s strike was in direct support of Iraqi forces fighting the militants, hitting fighters who were firing on them.
While administration officials didn’t want to give away too much about the latest airstrikes, they did confirm that in the Sinjar strike six ISIS vehicles were destroyed.
The Guardian reports that President Obama has now authorized airstrikes inside Syria as part of a broader campaign to defeat ISIS, even though no strikes have yet been launched in the country as yet.
When asked on Monday about the prospect of striking against the Assad regime, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said there will be “rules of engagement that are related to any military orders the president directs. It won’t surprise you to know that there are contingencies related to self-defense when it comes to these sorts of rules of engagement.”
In its effort to build a wider coalition in the Middle East to fight against ISIS there have been rumors over the past few days that the U.S. administration have been talking about liaising with Iran in order to neutralize the threat.
Secretary of State John Kerry even said that the U.S. was open to talking to Iran about a role in resolving the crisis, despite Washington’s earlier opposition to Tehran.
As Kerry told reporters, “That doesn’t mean that we are opposed to the idea of communicating to find out if they will come on board, or under what circumstances, or whether there is the possibility of a change. We’re not coordinating with Iran, but as I said, we’re open to have a conversation at some point in time if there’s a way to find something constructive.”
Even though Obama has said that no U.S. ground troops will be sent to Syria that possibility may have to become a reality as ISIS widens its hold on the region.