The addition of Arab military support to the coalition would be a major boost for the Obama administration's efforts to form a wide coalition, and to convince Arab states that it is in their best interest to fight against the extremist group that now controls a swath of Syrian and Iraqi territory about the size of Maryland.
According to The New York Times, officials traveling with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is in Europe after spending a week in the Middle East trying to rally support for combating ISIS, revealed the offer of military assistance.
“There have been offers both to Centcom and to the Iraqis of Arab countries taking more aggressive kinetic action,” a State Department official, who used the acronym for the United States Central Command, told the Times.
White House officials also spoke on Sunday morning talk shows, including chief of staff Denis McDonough, who touched on coalition building during an appearance on CNN's State of the Union.
Kerry visited Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Cairo during his tour. On Thursday, 10 Arab countries and the U.S. signed a communique that commits signatories to contribute military resources "as appropriate" in order to "destroy" ISIS. It is unclear, however, which of those 10 countries would provide military assistance in the form of direct attacks against ISIS targets. Saudi Arabia had already said it would provide the U.S. with access to military bases for training rebel forces to fight ISIS.
Turkey did not sign the communique, and is in a tough spot diplomatically because ISIS currently holds 49 Turkish diplomats in Iraq as hostages.
Arab state participation in combat operations alongside the U.S. is unusual, but not unprecedented. Saudi Arabia, for example, took part in the first Gulf War in 1991 to expel Iraqi forces from the neighboring nation of Kuwait.
On Saturday, ISIS released a new video showing the killing of another western hostage, British aid worker David Haines. In that video, an ISIS member named another British captive as the group's next target. The group has already killed two American journalists, James Foley and Steven Sotloff.
Those killings, along with the rapid territorial gains that ISIS has made in Iraq, helped convince U.S. President Barack Obama's administration to take a more aggressive stance in confronting the organization.
Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.