"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," Obama told reporters at a news conference after meeting with his top national security advisors.
"We do not have the ability to simply solve this problem by sending in tens of thousands of troops and committing the kinds of blood and treasure that has already been expended in Iraq. Ultimately, this is something that is going to have to be solved by the Iraqis," he said yesterday.
Iraq had requested the US to help under the security agreement (between the two countries), and to conduct air strikes on the militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), who have seized the country's second largest city of Mosul and advancing towards the capital.
"It is in our national security interests not to see an all-out civil war inside of Iraq, not just for humanitarian reasons, but because that ultimately can be destabilizing throughout the region," Obama said even as he noted that he is prepared to carry on targeted and precision strikes.
"We will be prepared to take targeted and precise military action if and when we determine that the situation on the ground requires it," he said.
The US, he said, also has an interest in making sure that there is no safe haven that continues to grow for ISIL and other extremist jihadist groups who could use that as a base of operations for planning and targeting US.
"If they accumulate more money, they accumulate more ammunition, more military capability, larger numbers, that poses great dangers not just to allies of ours like Jordan, which is very close by, but it also poses... a great danger, potentially, to Europe and ultimately the US," he warned.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said the US is committed to fight back the militants who are inching closer to Baghdad, but America's efforts would be successful only if Iraqi leaders embrace a political process shunning differences.
He said the efforts made by the US "will only be successful if Iraqi leaders rise above their differences and embrace a political plan that defines Iraq's future through the political process, not through insurgency and conflict."