- The Washington Times - Friday, June 13, 2014

President Obama said Friday the U.S. will not send troops into Iraq to fend off a burgeoning Islamic insurgency and stressed it is now time for the Iraqis to take full responsibility for their own security.

Speaking to reporters outside the White House before flying to North Dakota, the president said he has tasked his national security team to come up with a “range of options” for him to consider.

“We will not be sending U.S. troops back into combat in Iraq,” the president said. “This is not solely, or even primarily, a military challenge.”

While the U.S. stands ready to assist in some capacity, the president in no uncertain terms said the burden to quell the insurgency lies with the Iraqi government.

“Over the past decade, American troops have made extraordinary sacrifices to give Iraqis an opportunity to claim their own future. Unfortunately, Iraq’s leaders have been unable to overcome too often the mistrust and sectarian differences that have long been simmering there, and that’s created vulnerabilities within the Iraqi government as well as their security forces,” Mr, Obama said. “We can’t do it for them … this should be a wake-up call.”

Administration officials reportedly are weighing multiple options, including the use of drones or manned aircraft. The Associated Press reported that the administration also is considering an increase in surveillance and intelligence gathering and could ramp up monetary and military aid to Iraqi forces.

Mr. Obama made ending the Iraq war a top priority during his first term. U.S. combat troops left the country in 2011.

It’s unclear when the White House will make a decision on the future U.S. role in Iraq.

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