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Obama: US will help but Iraq must mend divisions

Published on Jun 14, 2014 6:52 AM
US President Barack Obama delivers a statement on the situation in Iraq, prior to departing the White House South Lawn in Washington on June 13, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States may take military action to support Baghdad in its battle against Sunni extremists but only if Iraq takes steps to heal its sectarian divide, President Barack Obama said Friday.

Mr Obama warned that US ground troops would not be sent back into the country they occupied for eight difficult, violent years, but said recent stunning rebel victories were a threat to US interests.

Amid reports the Pentagon is drawing up plans for air strikes against ISIL, the Sunni jihadist force that has seized the Iraqi city of Mosul, Mr Obama warned that Iraq must also help itself.

"We will not be sending US troops back into combat in Iraq, but I have asked my national security team to prepare a range of other options that could help support Iraqi security forces," he said.

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