Back to Iraq: Obama sending military advisers

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama finds himself inching back into a fight he’s tried to leave behind.

The president announced today he’s dispatching 300 U.S. military advisers to Iraq to help quell the rising insurgency in the crumbling nation. He also challenged Iraq’s embattled leader, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, to create a more inclusive government or risk his country descending into sectarian civil war. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to travel to Iraq soon to press its government to share more power.

Less than three years after Obama heralded the end of America’s war in Iraq, he insisted that he’s not sending the military back into combat. Still, when coupled with previously announced steps, the president’s actions could put about 600 additional U.S. troops in the midst of Iraq’s deeply unstable security situation.

Underscoring the volatility is a tenacious fight over Iraq’s largest oil refinery north of Baghdad. Iraqi soldiers and helicopter gunships battled Sunni militants for a third day on Thursday for control of the refinery.

%@AP Links

198-a-11-(President Barack Obama, in remarks)-“than through violence”-President Obama says Iraq’s government must be more inclusive if the crisis is to end. (19 Jun 2014)

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207-a-13-(President Barack Obama, speaking to reporters)-“in Iraq again”-President Obama says he’ll be vigilant to ensure the U.S. advisers sent to help the Baghdad government forces don’t end up fighting in a civil war. (19 Jun 2014)

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208-a-09-(President Barack Obama, speaking to reporters)-“in the balance”-President Obama says Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and other Iraqi leaders need to make hard choices — and set aside sectarian differences for the good of their country. (19 Jun 2014)

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196-a-14-(President Barack Obama, in statement)-“ground requires it”-President Obama says the U.S. is gathering better intelligence about what’s happening on the ground in Iraq. (19 Jun 2014)

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APPHOTO DCPM128: President Barack Obama speaks about the situation in Iraq, Thursday, June 19, 2014, in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington. Obama said the US will send up to 300 military advisers to Iraq, set up joint operation centers. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) (19 Jun 2014)

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