Obama does not rule out air strikes to assist Iraqi government in fighting insurgents
Obama won the White House in 2008 largely on the back of his opposition to the U.S. war in Iraq. American troops returned home under his tenure, and are preparing to leave Afghanistan, where the U.S. combat mission is slated to come to a close at the end of this year.
The Obama administration has highlighted recent U.S. support including delivery of 300 Hellfire missiles, millions of rounds of small arms fire, thousands of rounds of tank ammunition, machine guns and other weapons for the Iraqi Security Forces.
Iraqi Kurdish forces took control of the northern oil city of Kirkuk on Thursday, after government troops abandoned their posts in the face of a march by Sunni rebels toward Baghdad following their capture of the country’s second city, Mosul.
It also closed in on the biggest oil refinery in the country at Baiji, making further gains in a rapid military advance against the Shi’ite-led government in Baghdad.
Secretary of State John Kerry said Obama was “prepared to make key decisions in short order” and Vice President Joe Biden told Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in a phone call that Washington was ready to intensify and accelerate security support.
“I don’t think there’s any appetite in our country for us to become engaged in military activity in Iraq,” said Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader. “War begets war. It’s just not a good idea.”
Obama repeated his mantra that the United States would act militarily if it was within its national security interests.
The discussion had not advanced to the point where the administration had asked Congress for additional or emergency funds for operations in Iraq, congressional aides said.
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