Obama: Iraq will need additional U.S. assistance

The White House had not ruled anything out in terms of possible action in Iraq, the U.S. president said

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U.S. President Barack Obama said on Thursday that Iraq would need additional support from the United States to push back a rapidly spreading Islamist insurgency.

The president did not specify what type of assistance he would willing to provide. However, he added, the White House had not ruled anything out, the Associated Press reported.

“I don't rule out anything because we do have a stake in making sure that these jihadists are not getting a permanent foothold in either Iraq or Syria,” President Obama said when asked whether he was contemplating air strikes.

He says he is watching the situation in Iraq with concern and wants to ensure that jihadists do not get a foothold.

However, White House spokesman Jay Carney said later on Thursday that the United States is not contemplating sending ground troops to Iraq to help quell the insurgency.

Obama had said earlier that he did not rule out any options for helping Iraq combat violence. Carney said Obama was referring to not ruling out air strikes.

Meanwhile France said on Thursday world powers needed to act urgently to deal with the situation in Iraq as the advance by Islamist militants put the country’s unity in doubt and posed a wider risk for the region.

“The advance of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant seriously puts into danger the unity and sovereignty of Iraq and ... it poses a serious threat to the stability of the region,” Fabius said in a statement of ISIL fighters. “The international community must imperatively deal with the situation,” according to Reuters.

Iraq has been beset by violence since the last American forces withdrew in late 2011. The violence escalated this week with the militant jihadist group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria capturing two key Sunni-dominated cities this week and vowing to march on to Baghdad.

(With the Associated Press and Reuters)

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