Obama: US will send fresh help to beleaguered Iraq

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama is weighing a range of short-term military options, including airstrikes, to quell an al-Qaida inspired insurgency that has captured two Iraqi cities and threatened to press toward Baghdad.

Speaking in the Oval Office, the president said: "We do have a stake in making sure that these jihadists are not getting a permanent foothold."

However, officials are firmly ruling out putting American troops back on the ground in Iraq, which has faced resurgent violence since the U.S. military withdrew in late 2011. A sharp burst of violence this week led to the evacuation of Americans from a major air base in northern Iraq where the U.S. had been training security forces.

Nearly all American troops left Iraq in December 2011 after Washington and Baghdad failed to negotiate a security agreement that would have kept a limited number of U.S. forces in the country for a few more years at least.

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