Obama Says 'Small Number' Of Military Advisers Going To Iraq

Seeking a middle ground between calls for tough military action and none at all, President Barack Obama said Thursday he was sending up to 300 military advisers to Iraq to help the embattled government hold off a lightning advance from the north by Sunni militants.

Obama told White House reporters the goal was to prevent a civil war in Iraq that could destabilize the region, and also prevent creation of a terrorist safe haven in northern Iraq and neighboring Syria from which U.S. enemies could plan and launch attacks against American interests.

At the same time, Obama sought to allay fears of a military escalation that could relaunch the eight-year war he halted by withdrawing U.S. troops in 2011.

"We have had advisers in Iraq through our embassy and we are prepared to send a small number of additional American military advisers -- up to 300 -- to assess how we can best train, advise and support Iraqi security forces going forward," the President said.

"American forces will not be returning to combat in Iraq but we will help Iraqis as they take the fight to terrorists who threaten the Iraqi people, the region and American interests as well," he added.

Obama also said his strategy meant that "going forward, we will be prepared to take targeted and precise military action if and when we determine that the situation on the ground requires it."

(CNN)



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