Report: Iraq asked for US airstrikes against advancing militants

 

Iraq's government asked the White House to authorize airstrikes against extremists advancing on Baghdad, according to a report in The New York Times.

The Times said the U.S. has so far rebuffed the request, even as fighters affiliated with al Qaeda have seized Tikrit and Mosul, the second-largest city in Iraq.

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Bernadette Meehan, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, declined to comment on the request from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

“We are not going to get into details of our diplomatic discussions,” she said in a statement. “The current focus of our discussion with the government of Iraq and our policy considerations is to build the capacity of the Iraqis to successfully confront” the extremists.

The Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday will receive a closed-door briefing from administration officials on the security situation in Iraq.

The classified Senate briefing will feature the Pentagon’s Elissa Slotkin, Paul Wolfe and Patrick Ryan from the Defense Intelligence Agency, and Lt. Gen. John Bednarek, head of the Office of Security Cooperation in Iraq.

— This story was updated at 9:52 p.m.