In response to a question about whether the U.S. was considering drone strikes or any other military action in Iraq, President Obama said that there will be some "short term, immediate things that will need to be done militarily" in consultations with Iraq.
Speaking from the Oval Office after his meeting with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Obama addressed questions about U.S. action against Islamist militants who have seized four cities from government forces, casting doubts over the Iraqi army's ability to protect civilians following the U.S. drawdown of troops.
Obama said, "This is an area that we've been watching with a lot of concern not just over the last couple of days but over the last several months." The president said the U.S. has been providing assistance to the Iraqi government over the last year which included military equipment, intelligence assistance and other issues.
"But what we've seen over the last couple of days indicates the degree to which Iraq's going to need more help," Obama said. "It's going to need more help from us and it's going to need more help from the international community."
He said his national security team was "working around the clock" to identify what kind of assistance would be most effective. The political situation on the ground and the lack of trust between the Shias, Sunnis and Kurds caused part of the challenge, Obama said.
"I don't rule out anything because we do have a stake in making sure that these jihadists are not getting a permanent foot hold in either Iraq or Syria, for that matter."
Obama said that in consultations with Iraq there will be some "short term, immediate things that will need to be done militarily – and our national security team is looking at all the options."
However, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters Thursday, "We are not contemplating ground troops."
Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Tasneem Nashrulla at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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