14 June 2014, 00:48

Iraqi crisis: Obama holds White House meeting

Iraqi crisis: Obama holds White House meeting

US President Barack Obama held a meeting on situation in Iraq, where extremists took over a number of major cities, White House spokesperson Josh Earnest told journalists Friday. According to the spokesman, a number of senior officials participated in the meeting: chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, Deputy Director of National Intelligence Robert Cardillo, Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, President's National security adviser Susan Rice and White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough.

Earlier Friday Obama made a statement on Iraqi crisis. "We will not be sending US troops back into combat in Iraq, but I have asked my national security team to prepare a range of other options that could help support Iraqi security forces," cites him RIA Novosti agency. US President went to California until Monday. According to the White House spokesperson, Obama will work on Iraqi problem over the weekend. The situation in Iraq deteriorated dramatically over the recent days, when militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant seized major cities of Mosul and Tikrit and declared their intention to start offensive on Baghdad. Iraqi troops fled the region; many of them were captured by the terrorists and executed.

Obama to take several days to consider how to act on Iraq

President Barack Obama said on Friday he will take several days to review options for how the United States can help Iraq deal with a militant insurgency, saying any action would need significant involvement by Iraq itself, according to Reuters. "The United States is not simply going involve itself in a military action in the absence of a political plan by the Iraqis that gives us some assurance that they are prepared to work together," Obama said, demonstrating a reluctance to send US troops into battle in Iraq.

"We are not going to be able to do it for them," he added.

The threat by militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, in Iraq poses a danger to the people of Iraq and also, potentially Americans, Obama told reporters at the White House.

"This is a regional problem, and it is going to be a long-term problem. And what we're going to have to do is combine selective actions by our military to make sure that we're going after terrorists who could harm our personnel overseas or eventually hit the homeland," Obama said.

Obama said the insurgency so far has not caused major disruptions to oil supplies from Iraq, but that if insurgents took control of refineries, other oil producers in the Middle East would need to help "pick up the slack."

"That will be part of the consultations that will be taking place during the course of this week," Obama said.

Iraq PM visits beleaguered city of Samarra for talks

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki travelled to the embattled city of Samarra on Friday for a security meeting, Governor Ahmed Abdullah said.

 According to AFP, militants attacked the city, located 70 miles north of Baghdad, earlier in the week, and witnesses said they were readying for another assault on Friday.

Thousands of Iraqis volunteer to battle militants

Hisham Issa Kamel slipped out of his home in Baghdad early Friday and headed to a recruitment centre, joining thousands of others signing up to fight an offensive by Sunni Arab militants. His wife opposed the move, but she did not understand how serious the situation in the country has become, "so I did not listen to her," Kamel said.

 Hisham Issa Kamel slipped out of his home in Baghdad early Friday and headed to a recruitment centre, joining thousands of others signing up to fight an offensive by Sunni Arab militants. His wife opposed the move, but she did not understand how serious the situation in the country has become, "so I did not listen to her," Kamel said.

The assault spearheaded by jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group has overrun a vast swathe of northern and north-central Iraq, driving south towards the capital. With the security forces seemingly unable to halt the advance, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki announced that the government would arm civilian volunteers.

Kamel went to answer that call along with thousands of others at a recruitment centre in central Baghdad. Soldiers patted down the arriving volunteers and checked their identity cards. They later piled into trucks to be taken to military bases for basic training. "If I stayed home and others stayed home, who will go out to defend our honour?" said Kamel, 23, who has been married for less than two months.

His father-in-law, Hamed Kamel Hussein, a 45-year-old former soldier, also came to volunteer.

"I heard that volunteering is open to all ages, so I decided to come and participate in the war against ISIL," Hussein said.
The commander of the recruitment centre, Brigadier General Fadhel Abdulsahib, said thousands of people of all ages have joined up.

A number of retired officers have even been willing to join as the lowest enlisted rank, he added.

US Kerry expects Obama to make 'timely decisions' on Iraqi crisis

 US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday he expects President Barack Obama to make "timely decisions" on Iraq due to gravity of the situation, Reuters reports.

 "Given the gravity of the situation, I would anticipate timely decisions from the president regarding the challenge," Kerry told reporters at a news conference with British Foreign Minister William Hague.

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