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US may send in drones to Iraq to battle jihadists

Published on Jun 12, 2014 10:30 AM

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Washington vowed to boost aid to Iraq and is mulling drone strikes amid fears that Iraqi forces are crumbling in face of militants increasingly emboldened since the US withdrawal.

Iraqi officials have already privately asked the US to consider sending in drones to root out jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), who in a lightning offensive have seized a swathe of the north.

The request has been turned down in the past, but Washington is now weighing several possibilities for more military assistance to Baghdad, including drone strikes, a US official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Resorting to such aircraft - which remain highly controversial in Afghanistan and Pakistan - would mark a dramatic shift in the US engagement in Iraq, after the last American troops pulled out in late 2011.

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