Poll: Majority support airstrikes in Iraq

A majority of Americans now support airstrikes in Iraq, up 9 points since June, as President Obama targets an Islamist extremist group, according to a new poll.

The Washington Post/ABC News poll found that 54 percent support the strikes hitting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), while 39 percent oppose them. 

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Obama this month authorized new strikes to help protect the Kurdish city of Erbil and members of the Yazidi religious sect, who have been persecuted by ISIS. 

Dozens of strikes have since taken place in the country, with Obama vowing that they would continue.

The campaign saw an uptick over the weekend as U.S. strikes helped Iraqis to retake Mosul Dam.

In June, before the operation began, 45 percent supported airstrikes, while 46 percent were opposed. At that point, Obama had said only that the U.S. was prepared to take military action if necessary. 

Wednesday's poll is the third in a week to show majority support for the strikes. A Pew Research poll on Tuesday found similar results, while a Fox News poll last week showed 65 percent support. 

But the survey suggests that the public is yet to credit  Obama for the strikes and is still uncertain over his Iraq strategy.

The president's approval rating on Iraq remains underwater at 42 percent. That number is unchanged since June. 

Republicans are the most likely to back the strikes. Sixty-one percent of Republicans support them, compared to 54 percent of Democrats and 49 percent of independents. 

On the separate issue of providing arms to Kurdish forces to fight ISIS, 49 percent express opposition, while 45 percent support the idea. 

The survey was conducted before ISIS on Tuesday claimed to have beheaded American journalist James Foley in a video recording.

The group claimed the execution was in retaliation for airstrikes and threatened to kill another captive American journalist if the U.S. did not relent.

The poll surveyed 1,025 people from Aug. 13-17 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.