By Martin Matishak - 08/08/14 02:46 PM EDT
The head of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Friday said the extremist group the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS or ISIL) must be confronted forcefully by the U.S., though she stopped short of calling for boots on the ground.
“It takes an army to defeat an army, and I believe that we either confront ISIL now or we will be forced to deal with an even stronger enemy in the future,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said in a statement.
“Inaction is no longer an option,” according to Feinstein.
The senior lawmaker also said it had “become clear” that the group is recruiting and training fighters from Western countries and possibly sending them back to cities in the U.S. and Europe in order to “attack us in our backyard.”
“We simply cannot allow this to happen,” Feinstein warned.
Late Thursday, President Obama said he had authorized the military to execute targeted airstrikes to aid Kurdish fighters and refugees under attack from ISIS.
Friday morning, Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby announced a pair of U.S. F/A-18 fighter jets dropped 500-pound laser-guided bombs on a mobile artillery piece near the Kurdish capital city of Erbil, where some U.S personnel are currently stationed.
Feinstein said ISIS is capturing new Iraqi towns every day and pointed out that militants now control the country’s biggest dam in Mosul.
ISIS is “engaging in a campaign of ethnic cleansing that appears to be attempted genocide,” she said. “I believe that once this group solidifies its hold on what it calls the Islamic State, its next target may be Baghdad.”