UPDATE 4-Obama weighs U.S. action in Iraq but rules out combat troops

Fri Jun 13, 2014 5:54pm EDT
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(Adds lawmakers' quotes, Lockheed Martin, Obama call to Canadian Prime Minister, intelligence estimate)

By Roberta Rampton and Steve Holland

WASHINGTON, June 13 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Friday he needs several days to determine how the United States will help Iraq deal with a militant insurgency, but he ruled out sending U.S. troops back into combat and said any intervention would be contingent on Iraqi leaders becoming more involved.

The Pentagon is preparing a range of options for Obama, including air strikes. The actions are aimed at helping Iraq counter militants of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, a group Obama described as "vicious" and a "terrorist organization" that could eventually pose a threat to Americans.

Obama said Iraqi leaders needed to set aside sectarian differences to deal with the threat, and said the United States would engage in "intensive diplomacy" in the region to try to prevent the situation from worsening.

"The United States is not simply going to 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 told reporters at the White House.

Obama said he would consult with the U.S. Congress in coming days. His fellow Democrats are reluctant to allow any U.S. engagement in Iraq after the lengthy war, which began with the 2003 U.S.-led invasion to topple President Saddam Hussein.

"It is important to remember that military force alone cannot bring peace," said Adam Smith, the top Democrat on the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee.

Republicans have been critical of the president for what they say has been dithering on Iraq.   Continued...