U.S. Gov't Doesn't Want Americans to Join the Fight Against ISIL, Either

By Susan Jones | June 12, 2015 | 6:58am EDT
In this Wednesday, June 25, 2014 file photo, Kurdish peshmerga fighters take positions in Tuz Khormato, 62 miles south of the oil rich province of Kirkuk, northern Iraq. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File)

(CNSNews.com) - "I want to be absolutely clear that the United States government does not support U.S. citizens traveling to Iraq or Syria to fight against ISIL. And, of course, not to fight with ISIL, either," State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke told reporters on Thursday.

A reporter asked him about reports that Kurdish activists are recruiting former U.S. servicemen to help them fight Islamic State terrorists.

Rathke said any private citizens who travel to Iraq or Syria to fight are "not part of U.S. efforts in the region."

"We've had a travel warning for some time, and we've been clear that travel to Iraq and Syria remains very dangerous, and we do not support or endorse any nonessential travel to Iraq or Syria."

Asked if Americans who join the fight against ISIL will be prosecuted when they return to the U.S., Rathke referred the question to the Justice Department.

What about private U.S. citizens joining foreign armies in general -- on behalf of the separatists in eastern Ukraine, for example? the reporter pressed:

"Well, no, we haven't been -- we haven't been supporting U.S. citizens going to fight in those locations either," Rathke said.

"This is about travel to Iraq and Syria," he continued. "It's not a question of whether -- you know, of which organization you would be -- you know, that people might be affiliated with, so our recommendation to American citizens is not to travel to Iraq and Syria."

Rathke tried to move on to another question, but a reporter noted there are travel warnings for all kinds of places. "And it doesn't necessarily follow that the U.S. discourages or doesn't support people going to be mercenaries or whatever, or part of an army, simply because of a travel warning."

The reporter said it "would be nice to find out from the State Department's point of view whether this is strictly tied to where you have travel warnings or if it's more broad..."

"Well, yes, I've answered the question, yes, with specific references to Iraq and Syria," Rathke said.

And that was it.

MRC Store