President Obama today ruled out sending American troops “back into combat” in Iraq despite the threat from a surging army of Islamic militants.
The president appeared on the South Lawn of the White House after consulting with his top advisers.
The White House has been considering its options in Iraq as the country has come under siege by the Islamic militant army known as ISIS.
Obama said ISIS, which stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, poses a threat to Iraq, but because of its ideology and penchant for violence it “could pose a threat to American interests.”
The president said he has asked his National Security Council for a “range of options,” but he said, “We will not be sending us troops back into combat in Iraq.”
Obama said that “Ultimately it’s up to Iraqis to solve their problems.”
He added, “The U.S. simply is not going to get involved in a military action without assurances” that the Iraqi government will take actions to unify the country and reduce sectarian tensions.
The Obama administration has been alarmed by capturing the city of Fallujah, Iraq, earlier this year and then seeing ISIS sweep north this week to chase the Iraqi army out of Mosul, Tikrit, Baji and surrounding towns.
The militants vow to march on Baghdad and so far the Iraqi army has shown little willingness to confront them. The government of President Nouri al-Maliki has appealed for help, including a request for U.S. air power to pummel the insurgents.
ISIS controls a huge swath of territory that is bigger than many countries and extends from the edge of Aleppo in western Syria across the Iraqi border to Falluja in the south and Mosul in the north. The group is known for its radical Islam, a form so violent that it has been disowned by al Qaeda.