WASHINGTON -- As the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS reels from major setbacks in halting the extremist group’s continued creep into Iraq and Syria, lawmakers from across the aisle Sunday said the U.S. was failing to use what could perhaps be its best weapon against the ISIS offensive: Kurdish forces that are begging to get into the fight.
“You have the solution,” Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) said on CNN’s "State of the Union" on Sunday. “You have the Kurds.”
Gabbard, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said the group is “literally begging” for arms, weapons and ammunition. But the Iraqi government -- and the U.S. -- has not provided them.
The Obama administration said earlier this week that, despite the fall of the key Iraqi city of Ramadi and ISIS’ continued push in Syria, it was not losing against the group.
Lawmakers, though, criticized this assessment.
“Of course you’re not losing and you’re not winning because we’re not really engaged in this fight,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) said on CNN’s segment.
While Kinzinger said he would additionally support a dispatch of advisory American ground troops into Iraq, he agreed with Gabbard that the Kurds were an underused and potentially critical resource for the U.S.-led fight against ISIS.
“We have to be very aggressive in stopping this cancer now,” he said.
The recent gains by ISIS have led many lawmakers -- on both sides of the aisle -- to reassess the administration’s strategy to combat the Islamic State group in the region. Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) seized the moment to repeat their consistent refrain to send U.S. ground troops into Iraq.
Gabbard and Kinzinger were two of several lawmakers who have questioned the Obama administration’s reliance on Iraqi security forces as a primary offensive against ISIS, especially after the militant group seized Ramadi.
Gabbard recently co-sponsored an amendment in the House National Defense Authorization Act to directly arm Kurdish forces.
The fall of Ramadi -- and ISIS’ slow but continued push towards Baghdad -- was a blow that even the Obama administration couldn’t mask, with the State Department calling it a major setback.