US not to send troops to Iraq

Insurgents seize 2 more cities, move closer to Baghdad

Washington/ Baghdad: US President Barack Obama said on Friday that he is examining options short of sending ground troops to help Iraq counter a Sunni extremist offensive, but warned the country must heal its own divisions even as the militants gained more ground in Iraq overnight, moving into two towns in the eastern province of Diyala.

“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 Iraqi security forces,” Mr Obama said.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s government has asked the US to provide military assistance to counter a stunning advance by ISIL, a Sunni extremist movement.

Security sources said that the towns of Saadiyah and Jalawla, along with several villages around the Himreen mountains, had fallen to the insurgents after security forces abandoned their posts.

In brief remarks to reporters at the White House, Mr Obama warned the Baghdad government that it had brought disaster on itself by failing to heal the divides between Sunni and Shiite camps in the country.

“The United States will not involve itself in military action in the absence of a political plan by the Iraqis that gives us some assurance that they are prepared to work together,” he said.

He added, however, that “any action that we may 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.

“The US will do our part, but ultimately it’s up to the Iraqis to solve their problems,” he said.

( Source : agencies )
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