PORTLAND -- An Iraq war veteran living in Portland says the fall of an Iraqi city he and his comrades worked so hard to protect has been hard to watch.
President Obama announced Friday that the U.S. will not be sending troops back into combat in Iraq. Instead, Obama said he’s considering other options.
The statements come two days after the militant group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, captured the country’s second largest city: Mosul.
Not only is the extremist group well-armed, they are now well full-funded, too.
Friday, reports surfaced that ISIS stole the equivalent of $425 million from The Central Bank of Mosul.
“My initial reaction when I read about it and started getting reports was just absolute … I was actually shocked,” said Derek Gannon.
Gannon, who lives in Portland, served 16 years in the Army and said he deployed to Iraq several times as a Special Forces medic.
He said he was shocked and disappointed at how fast Mosul fell to the militants, who are now heading south to Baghdad.
“It is very personal to me because in Mosul, specifically, watching that city fall -- I fought, I had friends get hurt here. I know we got hit with an IED there,” he said.
The Oregon Department of Veteran Affairs estimates that 30,700 Oregonians served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
While President Obama ruled out sending combat troops back to Iraq, he said the chaos there could eventually pose a threat to American interests.
Administration officials said Obama is considering airstrikes using drones or manned aircraft, although no timetable was given for any potential action.
Gannon said the deteriorating situation in Iraq is tough to see.
“What do we have left to cling to as Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans? We’re seeing cities that we fought hard for fall just like that,” he said. “It’s really hard to watch.”