Secretary of State John Kerry said that U.S. air strikes, including from unmanned drones, “may well” be an option that President Barack Obama chooses to use to stop advances by fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. Kerry also said on Monday that the Obama administration is willing to talk with Iran over deteriorating security conditions in Iraq. The two countries are not yet ruling out potential military cooperation in halting actions by Sunni separatists.
This past week, ISIS took Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, and Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit. This has plunged Iraq into its worst crisis since the 2011 withdrawal of U.S. troops, all done in a lightening offensive. The group also recently posted graphic photos that appeared to show their gunmen massacring scores of captured Iraqi soldiers.
Kerry also said Washington is “open to discussions” with Tehran if the Iranians can help end the violence and restore confidence in the Iraqi government. The Secretary of State said the U.S. would not rule out any constructive military cooperation with Iran; however, contacts with the country were moving “step-by-step.” Alongside talks with Iran, the Obama administration is actively considering unilateral airstrikes to slow the ISIS insurgency that is threatening the government of President Nouri al-Maliki.
The earliest point of contact with Iran could be as soon as Monday in Vienna. At this point, senior U.S. officials are meeting with Iranian delegations as part of unrelated six-nation nuclear talks. Officials also say U.S.-Iran talks could be held in Baghdad, possibly between the two countries’ ambassadors to Iraq.
This report was compiled with information from The Associated Press.