President Barack Obama said on Thursday that the United States is prepared to send up to 300 military advisers to Iraq to address the ongoing crisis and has positioned military assets to make targeted strikes if necessary.
He emphasized that “American forces will not be returning to combat in Iraq.”
“Because of our increased intelligence resources, we’re developing more information about the potential targets associated with (the Islamic State Of Iraq and the Levant),” Obama said, “and 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.”
NBC News reported earlier this week that an aircraft carrier and two other U.S. Navy ships had moved into the Persian Gulf.
Obama also repeated his call for Iraq and the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to address the internal crisis, which has resulted in the extremist group ISIL advancing toward Baghdad.
“It’s not the place for the United States to choose Iraq’s leaders,” he 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 also said that Secretary of State John Kerry would travel to the Middle East and Europe this weekend for diplomatic meetings aimed at addressing the crisis.