Obama sending military advisers to Iraq

WASHINGTON -- President Obama said Thursday he will send up to 300 military advisers to Iraq to help retrain Iraqi security forces as they battle an insurgent invasion.

"Armed forces will not be returning to combat in Iraq," Obama said in a White House announcement.

Obama also announced that he will dispatch Secretary of State John Kerry to the region for diplomatic efforts that include demands for a more inclusive government in Iraq.

While some allies have called for removal of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Obama told reporters that "it's not our job to choose Iraq's leaders."

Obama's comments came after a meeting with his national security team on options that also include the possibility of future air strikes.

The president has vowed not to re-insert combat troops into Iraq; any special forces would be used to train Iraq's military, gather intelligence, and help identify possible targets against an insurgent army that is threatening Baghdad.

CNN is reporting that the Pentagon has prepared a plan that would deploy up to 100 special forces to Baghdad to help train Iraqi forces as they battle the invasion of an insurgent army that is threatening to take over the country.

The president's national security meeting comes a day after he reviewed the Iraq situation with members of the bipartisan leadership in Congress.

The president's team is also making diplomatic moves. They are urging al-Maliki, a Shiite prime minister, to put together a more inclusive new government that involves Sunnis and Kurds.

Some U.S. lawmakers and allies have called for al-Maliki to step down from power before the U.S. takes any action to help Iraq; a spokesman for al-Maliki has said he has no plans to leave.

The Iraqi government has formally requested U.S. air strikes against the invading force that has captured several Iraqi cities.

Any U.S. special forces operations inside of Iraq would require an agreement with the Iraqi government.

Secretary of State John Kerry, a participant in Obama's national security meeting, told NBC News that "what the United States is doing is about Iraq -- it is not about Maliki."


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