Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, issued the following statement in response to the terrorist advance in Iraq, led by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS):

“Given past U.S. sacrifices, it’s devastating to see terrorist groups taking over large cities in Iraq and marching to Baghdad — but not surprising.  For months, we’ve seen this al-Qaeda affiliate capture and hold areas in Syria and Iraq, while increasing its personnel, funding and weapons.  Terrorist camps operated openly on Iraqi soil.  It’s baffling that for months the Obama Administration denied Iraq requests to target these al-Qaeda camps with drones.  Today an entire region is in flames.  Terrorist groups are gaining strength, and Iraq’s energy output, critical to world markets, is in jeopardy.

“As Iraqi forces have struggled, Iranian-backed Shi’a militias in Iraq may reconstitute under the direction of Tehran, or Iran may get into the fight as it has done in Syria, further roiling the region.  What happens in the weeks and months ahead will have global implications and will directly impact key U.S. interests.

“This isn’t just a threat to Iraq and the region – but also us.  ISIS has reportedly been actively recruiting individuals capable of traveling to the U.S. to carry-out attacks.

“Yet the Obama Administration doesn’t seem much bothered by the chaos, which impacts U.S. national security interests.   When ISIS captured Fallujah earlier this year,  that should have been a wake-up call to the Obama Administration.  Yet its aid to the Iraqis has been unnecessarily limited.

“The Iraqi government is far from perfect.  President Maliki has been a big part of the problem.  Only the Iraqis can control their future.  But if we don’t want to see an Iraq with large swaths of territory under militant control, and we shouldn’t, we should answer Iraqi requests to target these al-Qaeda terrorists with drone strikes.”

Note: Earlier this year, Chairman Royce convened a hearing entitled, “Al-Qaeda’s Resurgence in Iraq: A Threat to U.S. Interests,” where he warned about ISIS’s growing size and power in Iraq.  More information about the hearing, including the Chairman’s remarks and witness testimony, is available HERE.