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Cicilline returns from Christmas in Iraq with clearer view on ISIS strategy

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PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) – Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline (D) returned from Iraq Sunday with a a strong view on military strategy in the Middle East.

He traveled to Kuwait and Iraq over Christmas week to spend time with troops who couldn’t be home with their families.

“It was a real privilege just to be able to be there during the holidays and say thank you to these heroes,” he said in an interview with Eyewitness News Sunday. Cicilline spent time with ten Rhode Island service members in Kuwait before traveling to Iraq for Christmas, where he had dinner with troops and military leaders.

His trip included meetings with military strategists including the top commander overseeing operations against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland. He said those leaders reported progress in efforts to support and train the Iraqi army.

“It has to be a coalition,” Rep. Cicilline said. “The fighting and boots on the ground have to be led by the Iraqis…[they] have to be both capable and willing to defend their own country and make their own future.”

Cicilline said he was more convinced than ever that the United States needs to let Iraq and Syria take back their own countries from ISIS. He also says the trip made him realize the military operation against the Islamic State would be a long one, if it is to succeed.

“We have the ability to go in tomorrow and in a very short period of time, with massive military engagement by the United States, to kill every member of ISIS,” Cicilline said.  “The reality is that then you give birth to the sons and daughters of ISIS. And that’s not a long term strategy.”

He called on Congress to take a vote to authorize the use of military force, in order to encourage further public discourse about military strategy. Such a vote would also put each member of Congress on the record about their stance on the military campaign.

Rep. Cicilline serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

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