No easy options for US in Iraq, observers say - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

No easy options for US in Iraq, observers say

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Iraq has requested U.S. air support to be used against the advancing terrorists. (Source: FOX) Iraq has requested U.S. air support to be used against the advancing terrorists. (Source: FOX)

WASHINGTON, DC (FOX) - The U.S. will help those who help themselves.

That is the message from President Barack Obama as he deals with a resurgence in Islamist extremism in Iraq.

He is promising some aid, but no troops. And telling the Iraqis they need to step up themselves and solve their political differences.

So who are the insurgents threatening to plunge Iraq into civil war once again?

The president ruled out putting U.S. boots on the ground and said no decisions about military action would be made this weekend.

The commander in chief signaled, much as the Pentagon has in recent days, that this is the Iraqis' fight.

"We cannot do it for them. In the absence of this effort, short term assistance we provide won't succeed," Obama said.

Meanwhile as fighters from ISIS, also known as ISIL, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, took more towns on the march to Baghdad, and the Pentagon continued to plan.

"I can tell you they cover a wide range of military capabilities and will be designed, as the president said, to help break the momentum of ISIL progress and bolster Iraqi's security forces. But clearly any decisions to employ these options rest solely with the commander in chief," said Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon's press secretary.

The leader of the insurgency, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was imprisoned by the U.S. four years ago in southern Iraq.

It's not clear why he was released.

The FBI has offered a $10 million reward for his capture.

The cities in Iraq that have already fallen to the Sunni jihadists report the group is imposing Sharia Law and beheading Iraqi troops.

"ISIL is a terrorist organization. It is so extreme that even al-Qaida saw fit at one point to try to disassociate itself to some degree from it," said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

But the military options being presented to the president are not ideal, according to current and former officials alike.

"You gonna start shooting up streets from the air in Mosul and killing civilians? You're gonna be seen as backing a government that doesn't respect the will of the Iraqi people? You're gonna put in drones when we don't have a very good intelligence picture?" said Phil Mudd, former deputy director of the CIA's counter-terrorist center.

The Pentagon estimates the speed at which the militants took territory surprised U.S. defense officials after the U.S. spent $17 billion training the Iraqi military.

"I could not have predicted, however, the extent to which ISIS could be effective in seizing cities in Iraq and trying to erase boundaries to create an Islamic state. That's why it's a wicked problem," said former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"We're certainly disappointed by the performance of some Iraqi security force units with respect to the challenges that they have faced in the last few days," Kirby said.

The U.S. has increased the number of surveillance drones it is flying over Iraq at the request of the Iraqi government.

Shiite-Islamic leaders in Baghdad are urging Shii-fighters to step up to defend the capitol of Baghdad and for now the U.S. embassy in Baghdad is operating normally.

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