John Kerry the United States Secretary of State said on Sunday that the U.S. is willing to help Iraq as the country starts a major offensive to take back control of two of its cities from militants linked to al-Qaeda.
However, the Secretary of State was clear to Iraq that he would not send any American troops into Iraq. Kerry said the militants from ISIS or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria are dangerous players in the area, but the U.S. top diplomat said the battle was Iraq’s to fight.
ISIS was formerly known in Iraq as al-Qaeda but has been renamed to reflect its growing ambitions. It has attempted to extend its influence through Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. At this time, it is suffering problems in Syria, where it lost more ground on Sunday to rival rebels groups.
However, the Sunni militants’ influence in Iraq presents a critical test for the government of Nouri al-Maliki the Prime Minister. The group is also leaving the White House administration worried over the group’s renewed force that was once declared vanquished in the country.
A series of bombings in the capital of Iraq killed 20 people on Sunday, although no one claimed responsibility; it appeared the attacks were linked to the Anbar province fighting.
In that province, that is strategic to the government, the militants fought to keep a grip on the two cities of Fallujah and Ramadi, which they had seized during the past week.
The army in Iraq encircled the city of Fallujah Sunday, poised to make an assault. At that time, thousands of the residents had to flee, fearing that an onslaught would take place similar to the one in 2004 when U.S. troops battled to take the city, which was held at the time by Sunni insurgents.
That confrontation was the deadliest for the war in Iraq for U.S. troops and some of the bloodiest since the war in Vietnam.
In Ramadi, Iraqi airstrikes on ISIS militants killed 60 late Saturday, said an army chief in the area. Fighting in the city on Sunday killed 12 civilians and 22 soldiers in Ramadi and an unknown number of al-Qaeda linked militants were killed.