President Barack Obama says the U.S. is prepared to take targeted military actions in Iraq if they would help fight a growing threat from extremist militants. He also says the U.S. is ready to send as many as 300 military advisers to Iraq.
Obama on Thursday offered an update to U.S. operations in Iraq, where al-Qaeda-inspired militants have sparked instability. He says the United States is forming joint operations centers in Baghdad and northern Iraq.
But Obama emphasizes that American combat troops would not be returning to Iraq.
Obama says the U.S. has increased its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations in Iraq to better understand the threats to Baghdad.
President Obama will discuss how the U.S. will approach the situation in Iraq, where officials have been requesting American military help in the face of advances made by the Sunni extremist group ISIS. The group's fighters have taken over several cities in northern Iraq this month. ...
As we reported earlier today, the rapid gains made by the Sunni group ISIS have stoked fears that Iraq may be on the verge of splintering along sectarian lines. Many are now calling for the resignation of the country's Shiite Muslim leader, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
In an interview conducted shortly before President Obama spoke today, German Defense Minister Ursula Von der Leyen told NPR's Robert Siegel:
"The source of the problem in Iraq, certainly one of the sources, was a Maliki government which was not inclusive, which was not a government of reconciliation."
"I think we have to get the neighboring countries involved that have influence – like turkey with the Kurds and Iran with the Shia and Saudi Arabia with the Sunnis — to find a constructive solution together with the United States."