U.S. boosting missile, surveillance drone deliveries to Iraq to fight al Qaeda, White House says

 WASHINGTON -- The White House said on Monday that the United States is accelerating its military sales and deliveries to Iraq to help the country fight al Qaeda-linked militants, part of a strategy to isolate the insurgent groups.

 The United States is looking to provide additional shipments of Hellfire missiles as early as this spring, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters in a briefing.

 Carney said the United States will provide 10 ScanEagle surveillance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to Iraq in upcoming weeks and 48 Raven surveillance UAVs later this year to help Iraq track al Qaeda-affiliated groups.  

"So this is I think representative of the comprehensive package of assistance that we're providing to Iraq in this effort, which obviously they are leading and the government is responsible for carrying out," Carney said.

 CBS News correspondent Clarissa Ward reports that the militants fighting in Iraq are members of the al Qaeda-linked, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, which has flourished in the power vacuum left by Syria's civil war next door. Anbar province shares hundreds of miles of border with northeast Syria, and ISIS fighters move back and forth between the countries. Their goal is to establish an Islamic state, or caliphate, that erases internationally recognized borders.

In a recent interview in his home in northern Lebanon, radical cleric and jihadi recruiter Omar Bakri told CBS News he hoped the violence would continue to spread across the region. Asked if he would be happy to see the war in Syria come to Lebanon, Bakri told CBS News, “beyond doubt” that he was “in favor of that -- because after all, the war in Syria it is really for the sake of establishing Islam in the region. And I believe the birth of the Islamic state has really started in Syria.”

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