By Andy Metzger
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
SOMERVILLE -- Congressman Michael Capuano said he encourages President Barack Obama to seek congressional authorization for military action as the White House determines how to deal with the Islamic State, which has captured vast territory in Iraq and Syria.
"Every time you touch this whole region, you're actually touching 15 different things, all of which are dangerous, all of which are complicated and all of which are important," Capuano told reporters before an event Tuesday to mark the opening of a new MBTA station.
He said Obama has authorization for military action in Iraq. "Anything beyond that certainly would require congressional action, and I would actually encourage him to do so in the reasonably near future," said Capuano, a Democrat serving in a Republican-led U.S. House.
Islamic State has publicized the beheadings of two American journalists, James Foley and Steven Sotloff.
"War drums are something I take very seriously and this is one more beat on that war drum - is not a wise move on their behalf if they want to keep us out of a military action," said Capuano, who said he is not ready to call for military action and said he thought Obama has been "handling it reasonably well.
Islamic State has reportedly recruited Europeans and Australians to join the religious war, establishing a caliphate and killing and taxing those who do not subscribe to their fundamentalist version of Sunni Islam.
Obama authorized airstrikes to beat back the fighters from the Iraqi city of Erbil, where many Americans are located, and the Sinjar mountains, where residents had fled to escape the invaders.
Last Thursday Obama said once he has a strategy "I will consult with Congress and make sure that their voices are heard."
The White House reported Tuesday that President Obama had authorized the Department of Defense "to fulfill a Department of State request for approximately 350 additional U.S. military personnel to protect our diplomatic facilities and personnel in Baghdad, Iraq."
The forces will not serve in a combat role but are part of efforts to support the Iraqi government in its fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
"In addition to our efforts to protect our personnel, we will continue to support the Government of Iraq's efforts to counter ISIL, which poses a threat not only to Iraq, but to the broader Middle East and U.S. personnel and interests in the region," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement. "The President will be consulting this week with NATO allies regarding additional actions to take against ISIL and to develop a broad-based international coalition to implement a comprehensive strategy to protect our people and to support our partners in the fight against ISIL."
Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, and Obama's counterterrorism advisor, Lisa Monaco, plan to travel to the region "in the near-term to build a stronger regional partnership."