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Homeland Security

Clinton Calls for More Aggressive US Campaign Against IS

by Ken Bredemeier November 19, 2015

Former U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton, the leading candidate for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, called Thursday for a more aggressive American campaign against Islamic State (IS) terrorism, including a more forceful U.S. aerial bombardment against militants and the use of more regional ground forces to retake lands in Iraq and Syria the insurgents have claimed.

Adopting a tougher stance than President Barack Obama, Clinton urged imposition of a no-fly zone in Syria to stop Syrian President Bashar al-Assad 'from slaughtering the opposition on the ground.'

She told the Council on Foreign Relations in New York that the U.S. needs to intensify its 15-month-old aerial bombardment against IS insurgents, to support local and regional 'ground forces actually taking back more territory.'

But Clinton, who served as Obama's first secretary of state from 2009 to 2013, said she does not support sending a large contingent of U.S. ground forces to the Middle East if she wins the Democratic nomination and eventually the presidency in the U.S. election a year from now.

More special ops

She emphasized the need for U.S. air support of Kurdish and Sunni ground fighters waging war against IS insurgents and said she believes that 'injecting some large contingent of American forces complicates' the resolution of conflicts in the region. But Clinton said U.S. special operations forces should be embedded to assist regional fighters combating IS militants.

Obama this week again ruled out deployment of U.S. ground forces to Iraq and Syria, beyond the 50 special operations forces he has dispatched to Syria to help local fighters identify targets and the 3,000 U.S. troops acting as advisers and trainers in Iraq. He said the U.S., with the addition of 50,000 troops in the region, could overwhelm Islamic State strongholds, but then would have to occupy the lands permanently if it wanted to maintain control. He has also ruled out imposition of a no-fly zone in Syria.

Goal is to 'destroy' IS

Some Republican presidential candidates have for months attacked Obama's stance against a further U.S. troop deployment. One of Clinton's would-be opponents in next year's national election, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, the son and brother of two U.S. presidents, this week was the latest to call for U.S. ground forces in the region in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris.

Clinton, using another acronym for the Islamic State, said, 'Our goal is not to deter or contain ISIS, but to defeat and destroy ISIS.' She said the effort 'will require sustained commitment in every pillar of American power.'

She said the Iraqi government needs to arm Sunni and Kurdish fighters against the Islamic State, and that if Baghdad is unwilling to do so, the U.S.-led coalition should provide them weapons. She also called for an 'intelligence surge,' adding more Arabic speakers with expertise in the region.

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