Air strikes an option in Iraq, Kerry says
The United States is considering air strikes to help the Iraqi government fend off an Islamist insurgency as well as possible discussions with neighboring Iran, US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday.
Asked about the possibility of such strikes, Kerry said in an interview with Yahoo! News: "They're not the whole answer, but they may well be one of the options that are important."
"When you have people murdering, assassinating in these mass massacres, you have to stop that. And you do what you need to do if you need to try to stop it from the air or otherwise," he added.
Kerry also said the United States was "open to discussions" with Iran to help Iraq's Shi'ite-led government combat a Sunni Islamist insurgency.
The United States may discuss the crisis in Iraq with top Iranian officials on the sidelines of this week's nuclear talks in Vienna, though they will be unrelated to those negotiations, a senior US official said. "There may be discussion of that issue on the margins," the official said on condition of anonymity without giving details.
MARINES MOVE INTO THE GULF
The amphibious transport ship USS Mesa Verde with 550 Marines on board entered the Gulf today to support possible US action to help Iraq's Shi'ite-led government combat a Sunni Islamist insurgency that has overtaken large areas of the country's north, a US defense official said.
President Barack Obama has said he is considering military action, short of putting US troops in Iraq, to aid Baghdad's efforts to stop the insurgency.
The USS Mesa Verde joins the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush, which moved into the Gulf on Saturday along with the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea and the guided-missile destroyer USS Truxtun.