June 13th, 2014
08:04 PM ET

U.S. Officials "surprised" at speed of militant advances in Iraq

U.S. officials are admitting to CNN that they were caught off guard by how quickly the situation in Iraq has spiraled out of control.

Officials told CNN's Kyra Phillips that they were surprised at both the speed of the militants' advance and the fact that Iraqi Security Forces appeared to abandon their units and positions.

Today, militants took over three more towns after clashes with Iraqi forces that lasted several hours. So far the group behind the violence – the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS – has launched massive attacks on four major cities and already controls more than three dozen smaller towns.

President Obama, who oversaw the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq, warned of the consequences of doing nothing, saying the terrorists could eventually threaten U.S. interests.

Another U.S. official tells CNN that the Pentagon is already making arrangements to move the aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush into the Persian Gulf. That would give President Obama the option of possible airstrikes, which the Iraqi government has been asking for.

Arwa Damon is in Irbil, Iraq has the latest from the ground.

Filed under: International • Iraq • National Security
soundoff (One Response)
  1. Bernard Lemieux

    The situation in Iraq is getting more dire with the insurgents getting close to Baghdad. President Al- aliki seems to be powerless to stop it. He needs to show concern and good faith by appointing a couple sunni ministers right now. Negotiations are futile at this point. All they understand is raw power and i would give them some of that right now. I would stop their advance as soon as possible by bombing their spear-head. it would stop them for now and send a very strong message. It would also cause the biggest train wreck in history; a massive pile-up of insurgents and equipment. I would prevent a retreat by securing all side roads and the border between Iraq and Syria. Urgent action is required or Iraq will fracture into many parts. Let's pray for Iraq.

    June 16, 2014 at 1:05 pm | Reply

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