President Barack Obama ruled out sending combat troops to Iraq to stabilize the country after an al Qaeda offshoot expanded its control of parts of the country.
"We will not be sending U.S. troops back into combat in Iraq," Obama said from the White House on Friday afternoon. Instead, his national security team will arrange other options for his consideration "in the days ahead."
But whatever he decides, the president said the Iraqis need to come up with a political plan for long-term stability.
"Any action that we may take ... has to be joined by a serious and sincere effort by Iraq's leadership to set aside sectarian differences," Obama said. "It should be a wake-up call. Iraq’s leaders must display a willingness to make tough decisions, and compromises. Ultimately, it's up to the Iraqis as a sovereign nation to solve their problems."
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, is an al Qaeda splinter group that took control of large portions of Iraqi territory, specifically in the north and north-central portions of the country, and is threatening to advance on Baghdad. The group is comprised of Sunni Islamists, while Iraq's government is dominated by Shiites.
Obama said ISIS "poses a danger to Iraq and its people" and "could eventually threaten U.S. interests" if the group isn't stopped.