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Obama sends US military advisers to Iraq as battle rages over refinery

Published on Jun 20, 2014 6:54 AM

WASHINGTON/TIKRIT (REUTERS) - President Barack Obama said on Thursday he was sending up to 300 US military advisers to Iraq but stressed the need for a political solution to the Iraqi crisis as government forces battled Sunni rebels for control of the country's biggest refinery.

Speaking after a meeting with his national security team, Obama said he was prepared to take "targeted" military action later if deemed necessary, thus delaying but still keeping open the prospect of US air strikes against a militant insurgency.

But he insisted that US troops would not return to combat in Iraq.

Obama called on the Shi'ite government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to take urgent steps to heal the country's sectarian rift, something US officials say the Iraqi leader has failed to do and which an al Qaeda splinter group leading the Sunni revolt has exploited.

US President Barack Obama speaks about the situation in Iraq in the briefing room of the White House in Washington on June 19, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
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