By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Friday, August 8, Congressman Bradley Byrne (R) released a written statement supporting President Obama’s authorization of limited airstrikes against Islamic militants in Iraq. The militants, the Islamic Society of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have called for a global caliphate.
Representative Byrne said, “I support President Obama’s decision to authorize military air strikes against ISIS in Iraq. The situation is growing more dire by the minute, and American leadership is needed now more than ever. While I want our involvement to be limited, we can no longer sit on the sidelines while a country we devoted so many American lives to falls into the hands of terrorists once again.”
Rep. Byrne continued, “ISIS has made repeated threats against the American people, both overseas and here at home. There is no doubt ISIS poses a clear threat to the United States, and the group is better funded and more extreme than al-Qaeda. I will continue to pray for the safety of American personnel stationed in Iraq and those who will carry out these missions against a truly dangerous enemy.”
ISIS began as one of the disgruntled Sunni groups that revolted against Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. At one point the U.S. was on the verge of intervening in Syria on behalf of the rebels; but increasing attacks on civilians by the rebels was one reason why the administration rethought that strategy. ISIS consolidated their position in Northern Syria and in recent weeks has invaded Iraq. The extremely violent Sunni group has taken Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, and is advancing into Kurdish territory as well as threatening Baghdad. On Thursday the group attacked the Lebanese Army on the Lebanon/Syria border sparking fears that the group, which has renounced all international borders have Lebanon next on their wish list.
Following territorial gains, the group has begun exterminating groups that they don’t like including: Christians, Yazidis, Sunnis that don’t support them, and captured Iraqi Army soldiers. The group is posting numerous beheadings and crucifixions on web sites including the execution of children whose only crime was being born into a Christian or Yazidi family. Thousands of Yazidi families who were fleeing the group invasion of Kurdish territory are trapped on a mountain surrounded by ISIS militants. President Obama authorized the U.S. military to drop supplies Friday to the trapped refugees. Hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing the militants advance. On Sunday, militants held a public stoning of a woman accused of adultery in Syria. A dump truck dropped off a load of rock, a hole was dug, the woman put in the hole, and then she was stoned to death.
Thousands of Yazidi women under 30 have been seized by the militants.
On Sunday, Pope Francis said, “The news reports coming from Iraq leave us in dismay and disbelief: thousands of people, including many Christians, driven from their homes in a brutal manner; children dying of thirst and hunger in their flight; women taken and carried off; violence of every kind.” On Thursday, around 100,000 were forced to abandon the city of Qaraqosh, which had Iraq’s largest Christian population.
A statement released by the Vatican late Sunday said the Pope had given the cardinal “personal guidance” for the mission, as well as an unspecified sum of money to be given to those worst affected by the upheaval. Most of the Christians have fled to Iraqi Kurdistan, which is now receiving arms from the United States. The Pope said he was “confident that an effective political solution on both the international and the local levels may be found to stop these crimes and re-establish the (rule of) law,” and thanked those who “are bringing succour” to those who are suffering.
Congressman Bradley Bryne (R) from Mobile represents Alabama’s First Congressional District.