President Barack Obama on Friday ruled out sending US ground troops “back into combat” in Iraq, but said that he is reviewing a range of other options to help the ar-torn country counter the violent Islamic insurgency.
“We will not be sending US troops back into combat in Iraq, but I have asked my national security team to prepare a range of other options that could help support Iraq’s security forces. And I’ll be reviewing those options in the days ahead,” Obama told reporters on the White House lawns.
Obama said that “ultimately it’s up to Iraqis to solve their problems”.
He said, “There will be some short-term immediate things that need to be done militarily, and our national security team is looking into all the options.” He didn’t provide details.
“The US simply is not going to get involved in a military action without assurances” that the Iraqi government will take actions to unify the country and reduce sectarian tensions, he said.
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He asserted that any action that US makes take to provide assistance to Iraqi security forces has to be joined by a serious and sincere effort by Iraq’s leaders to set aside sectarian differences, to promote stability and account for the legitimate interests of all of Iraq’s communities, and to continue to build the capacity of an effective security force.
“We can’t do it for them. In the absence of this type of political effort, short-term military action — including any assistance we might provide — won’t succeed,” Obama asserted.
“So this should be a wake-up call. Iraq’s leaders have to demonstrate a willingness to make hard decisions andcompromises on behalf of the Iraqi people in order to bringthe country together. In that effort, they will have thesupport of the United States and our friends and our allies,” he said.
The President appeared on the South Lawn of the White House after consulting with his top advisers. Obama said ISIL, which stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, poses a threat to Iraq, but because of its ideology and penchant for violence it “could pose a threat to American interests.”
He mentioned some initial moves, but stopped short of spelling out further steps that could include air strikes intended to slow the progress of militants and help the Iraqi military regain its equilibrium.
ISIL, the al-Qaeda-inspired Islamic insurgent group has taken major cities in Iraq and vowed to march on the capital, Baghdad.