Obama ready for ‘targeted’ military action in Iraq
Obama also said he was prepared to send up to 300 military advisors
President Barack Obama on Thursday said the United States was prepared to take “targeted, precise” military action against insurgents fighting the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
“Going forward, we will be prepared to take targeted and precise military action if and when we determine that the situation on the ground requires it,” Obama said at the White House after meeting senior members of his national security team.
Obama also said the United States was prepared to send up to 300 military advisors to study how to train and equip Iraqi forces and had already increased its surveillance and intelligence capabilities in the country.
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“We’re prepared to send a small number of additional American military advisers, up to 300, assess how we can best train, advise and support Iraqi security forces going forward,” Obama said.
The U.S. president said it was a good investment for Washington to intervene in Iraq if it prevented Islamic State of Iraq and the Syria (ISIS) fighters establishing bases which could eventually pose a threat to the West.
But he repeatedly insisted U.S. troops would not be going back in to direct combat in Iraq, two-and-a-half years after the last American soldier came home from the war.
He said the United States is forming joint operations centers in Baghdad and northern Iraq, Associated Press reported.
But Obama emphasized that American combat troops would not be returning to Iraq.
He revealed that the U.S. has increased its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations in Iraq to better understand the threats to Baghdad.
The U.S. Air Force had begun flying F-18 fighter planes from the carrier George H.W. Bush on missions over Iraq to conduct surveillance of the insurgents, U.S. officials said earlier.
Asked about the future of Prime Minister Maliki, Obama said it was not up to the United Stated to “determine” Iraq’s leaders, but said a ‘test’ of inclusive leadership is now before Maliki.
“Shia, Sunni, Kurds, all Iraqis must have confidence that they can advance their interests and aspirations through the political process rather than through violence,” Obama said.
“It is clear, though, that only leaders that can govern with an inclusive agenda are going to be able to truly bring the Iraqi people together and help them through this crisis.”
Obama warned that he would not authorize political operations that were designed to promote one sect in Iraq over another.
And he said that he would dispatch Secretary of State John Kerry to Europe and the Middle East this weekend to consult with U.S. allies on the next steps forward on the Iraq crisis.
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