US deploys 3 warships to Persian Gulf for likely Iraq hit

US deploys 3 warships to Persian Gulf for likely Iraq hit
Sun Jun 15, 2014 16:17:23

The US military has deployed three warships in the Persian Gulf area in a bid to give the American president the option of potentially ordering airstrikes against suspected al-Qaeda-linked insurgents in Iraq.

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush to move into the Persian Gulf on Saturday.

The 103,000-ton warship is accompanied by the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea and the guided-missile destroyer USS Truxtun, which carry a large number of Tomahawk missiles, the Pentagon said in a statement.

The ships were due to arrive in the Persian Gulf late on Saturday.

"The order will provide the Commander-in-Chief additional flexibility should military options be required to protect American lives, citizens and interests in Iraq," Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said.

On Friday, Obama said , “We will not be sending US troops back into combat in Iraq, but I have asked my national security team to prepare a range of other options that could help support Iraq's security forces.”

On June 10, the militants from the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) took control of Nineveh province, including its provincial capital Mosul, in a lightning advance, which was followed by the fall of Tikrit, located 140 kilometers (87 miles) northwest of the capital Baghdad.

Rights groups say around half a million people have been uprooted in and around Mosul.

The ISIL militants have vowed to continue their offensive towards Baghdad. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has said that the country’s security forces would confront the terrorists, calling Mosul seizure a “conspiracy."

He has blamed Saudi Arabia and Qatar for the security crisis and growing terrorism in his country, denouncing Riyadh as a major supporter of global terrorism.

Earlier on Saturday, Iraqi forces recaptured a number of towns in Salah al-Din and Diyala provinces.

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