Obama promises 'long-term' strategy against IS militants in Iraq

US President Barack Obama speaks about the US involvement in Iraq, as well as the situation in Ferguson, Missouri, in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on Aug 18, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
US President Barack Obama speaks about the US involvement in Iraq, as well as the situation in Ferguson, Missouri, in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on Aug 18, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - President Barack Obama said Monday that the United States has embarked on a long-term mission to defeat the insurgents of the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) fighting in Iraq.

Ten days after ordering air strikes against the jihadist fighters, Mr Obama warned that IS remains a threat to Iraq and the wider region, telling Baghdad "the wolf is at the door".

Previously, Mr Obama has been at pains to describe the US operation as limited but, as American jets pound IS positions outside Mosul, he said it would form part of a broader political strategy.

"We will continue to pursue a long-term strategy to turn the tide against ISIL by supporting the new Iraqi government and working with key partners in the region," he said, using one of the group's acronyms.

Mr Obama repeated his support for new Iraqi premier Haidar al-Abadi's attempts to form a more inclusive government, but warned he must act quickly to undercut support for the radicals.

"I was impressed in my conversation with him about his vision for an inclusive government but they've got to get this done because the wolf's at the door," he told reporters.

"In order for them to be credible with the Iraqi people, they're going to have to put behind some of the old practices and actually create a credible united government.

"Our goal is to have effective partners on the ground. And if we have effective partners on the ground, mission creep is much less likely," promising a joint "counter-terrorism" strategy with Iraq and US allies.