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Volunteers in the newly formed "Peace Brigades" participate in a parade near the Imam Ali shrine in the southern Shiite city of Najaf, Iraq, on Thursday.

Obama: US to send 300 military advisers to Iraq

WASHINGTON – Holding back from more robust options, President Barack Obama on Thursday said he is dispatching up to 300 military advisers to Iraq to help quell the rising insurgency in the crumbling state.

He called on Iraqi leaders to govern with a more “inclusive agenda” to ensure the country does not descend into civil war.

Obama left open the option of “targeted” military action in the future, and he said the U.S. also would increase its intelligence efforts in Iraq and was prepared to create joint operations centers with Iraqis. But he was adamant that U.S. troops would not be returning to combat in Iraq.

“We do not have the ability to simply solve this problem by sending in tens of thousands of troops and committing the kinds of blood and treasure that has already been expended in Iraq,” Obama told reporters in the White House briefing room. “Ultimately, this is something that is going to have to be solved by Iraqis.”

Obama stopped short of calling for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to resign. He said it’s not the United States’ job to choose Iraq’s leaders.

But he said whoever is prime minister must make sure all sectarian groups feel they can advance their interest through the political process.

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