By: Meredith Francis ~Campus News Editor~
U.S. officials are growing concerned as a militant Islamist group tightens its grip on parts of Syria and Iraq.
The group is commonly known as ISIS or ISIL, which stand for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, respectively.
ISIS, which the U.S. recognizes as a terrorist organization, is made up of Sunni extremists who want to undermine the ruling Shia government in Iraq. The group claims religious authority over all Muslims and aims to have many Muslim-inhabited countries under its control.
Recently, ISIS has been accused of directing violence at the Yazidi people, an ethnic minority in Iraq, leading many Yazidis to flee into the mountains without food, water or shelter. This prompted President Barack Obama to authorize both humanitarian aid to the Yazidis and military airstrikes on ISIS.
So far, the Obama administration has deemed the airstrikes successful, though Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said ISIS is “beyond anything we’ve seen.”
ISIS is also reportedly responsible for the gruesome beheading of American journalist James Foley, which the United States and many other countries condemned. On Aug. 26, Obama authorized reconnaissance flights over Syria in order learn more about the movements of ISIS.
The group’s control has virtually blurred the border between Syria and Iraq.
This could potentially escalate U.S. involvement in the Middle East to address the part of the organization that is active in Syria.
Obama likened ISIS to “a cancer” that is spreading quickly throughout the region, and warned that the process of removing their control will be neither quick nor simple.