On Wednesday, Iraq renewed its plea to the US for assistance in combating ISIS—Islamic State in Iraq and Syria—gains in the country, formally requesting American air strikes to bolster Iraqi forces. Iraqi foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, made the request on al-Arabiya television the Guardian reports: "We request the United States to launch air strikes against militants." Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, confirmed to Congress on Wednesday that the US had received the request for airstrikes.
The plea from the Iraqi government comes as ISIS on Tuesday seized the country’s largest oil refinery. Washington, however, has been reluctant to reengage in Iraq after years of war in the country and, the Associated Press reports, “President Barack Obama has shifted his focus away from airstrikes in Iraq as an imminent option for slowing a fast-moving Islamic insurgency, in part because there are few clear targets that U.S. could hit, officials said.”
Here’s more on the worsening security situation from the BBC:
Iraqi PM Nouri Maliki earlier urged Iraqis to unite against the militants. Government forces are battling to push back ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) and its Sunni Muslim allies in Diyala and Salahuddin provinces, after the militants overran the second city, Mosul, last week.