US focus shifts away from airstrikes in Iraq

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 17, 2014 at 10:51 pm •  Published: June 17, 2014
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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is not expected to approve imminent airstrikes in Iraq, in part because there are few clear targets that could blunt a fast-moving Sunni insurgency, U.S. officials said Tuesday.

Officials said Obama had made no final decisions and didn't rule out the possibility that airstrikes ultimately could be used, particularly if a strong target becomes available. But officials said the strikes were not the current focus of the administration's ongoing discussions about how to respond to the crumbling security situation in Iraq.

The president planned to brief top congressional leaders on the matter at the White House on Wednesday.

The officials insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the ongoing deliberations by name.

Beyond airstrikes, the U.S. also has been weighing the possibility of sending a small contingent of special operations forces to Iraq to help train that country's security forces. Officials also have been looking at ways to boost the intelligence available to Iraqi forces.

More broadly, the Obama administration is also pressing for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to take steps to make his Shiite-dominated government more inclusive. Obama said last week that any short-term U.S. military actions in Iraq would not be successful unless they were accompanied by political changes by the government in Baghdad.

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