Washington, DC, United States (4E) – President Barack Obama announced Thursday the deployment of 300 military advisers to Iraq and hinted of airstrikes against Sunni militants trying to take over the Arab country by force.
Obama said the contingent will beef up military advisers from the U.S. embassy in Baghdad already training, advising and supporting Iraqi security forces.
“American forces will not be returning to combat in Iraq but we will help Iraqis as they take the fight to terrorists who threaten the Iraqi people, the region and American interests as well,” Obama said, according to CNN.
“American troops are not going to be fighting in Iraq again. We do not have the ability to simply solve this problem by sending in tens of thousands of troops and committing the kinds of blood and treasure that has already been expended in Iraq. Ultimately this is something that is going to have to be solved by the Iraqis,” CBS quoted him as saying.
The President also said the U.S. military “will be prepared to take targeted and precise military action if and when we determine that the situation on the ground requires it.”
The advisers will be deployed soon to multiple joint command locations in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq, senior administration officials said. They will also gather intelligence on ISIS forces, such as their location, numbers and weaponry, information needed for aerial bombardment to precisely hit targets.
Obama further said he is dispatching Secretary of State John Kerry to Iraq for a mission to bring together Iraq’s Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish people. The rift among the three main ethnic groups comprising Iraq’s population had grown wider because of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s divisive sectarian policies, Obama said.
Sunni fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have overran several cities in Iraq and reportedly executed thousands of Iraqi troops, police and militias along the way.
Obama put the blame on the fighting to Maliki and not his decision to withdraw American troops from Iraq in 2011.