US General David Petraeus, a former commander of US forces in Iraq, said Friday he would support targeted strikes against jihadists behind an offensive in the strife-torn country, who he said were developing into a “terrorist army”.
Petraeus, who won praise for leading the troop surge that preceded Washington’s exit from Iraq after a costly eight-year war, told the Daily Telegraph newspaper that the militants posed a risk to countries outside the region.
He added: “It seems to be much more than a terrorist group: it seems to be turning into a terrorist army, one that has acquired vast financial resources from looting banks and other criminal enterprises.”
US President Barack Obama on Thursday pledged to take “precise” military action if required in Iraq and offered up to 300 US advisors to train Iraqi forces, after the Shiite-led government in Baghdad formally asked for air support.
In a speech in London on Thursday, however, Petraeus warned there needed to be a radical change of politics in Baghdad to reflect Iraq’s multi-confessional, multi-ethnic make-up before any US intervention.