Durbin warns of limited support for airstrikes

A top Senate Democrat pushed back Sunday against GOP calls for a more aggressive American assault on Islamist militants in northern Iraq, saying congressional support for the operation is not absolute.

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Speaking on "Meet the Press," Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said most of Congress agrees with the president’s authorization of targeted airstrikes against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) forces near the Kurdish regional capital of Irbil.

But Durbin bristled at calls for stronger actions focused on wiping out ISIS.

“We cannot send the troops, we must not send the troops,” he continued. “We need to be sure that what we do has surgical precision to it and a clear goal of success.”

Obama insisted Saturday that he would not send combat troops back into Iraq, though he declined to put a firm timetable on the air campaign and called the crisis a “long-term project.”

Following more than a decade at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, lawmakers’ initial backing for the operation hinges on its narrow focus on the thousands of refugees now under siege on Mount Sinjar.

“To go beyond is really going to be a challenge,” he said referring to Obama’s hopes of maintaining congressional support.

“Escalating it is not in the cards,” Durbin said.