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US lawmakers warn of 'next 9/11' threat in Iraq

US President Barack Obama makes a statement on the situation in Iraq at the White House in Washington on June 13, 2014US President Barack Obama came under fire Sunday from Republican lawmakers and others who warned that a debacle in Iraq will give Islamist extremists a staging area for “the next 9/11.” Senator Lindsey Graham, a proponent of US air strikes, also called for the resignation of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and direct US engagement with Iran on the crisis set off this week by a lightning offensive by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) jihadist group. Retired military officers questioned whether air strikes were a viable near-term option with no US forces on the ground to provide precise targeting data. But they and a former US ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, stressed the urgent need for high-level US diplomacy to drive Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds toward a political solution.

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