WASHINGTON, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama said Saturday that "we are not going to have combat troops in Iraq," admitting that most Iraqis don't want continued U.S. military presence.
During his speech on the South Lawn of the White House, Obama reiterated that the United States won't have combat troops in Iraq, but will have to evaluate "whether more U.S. money will be needed for Iraq."
He admitted that U.S. troop presence wouldn't have helped Iraq avoid this situation, but would have risked more lives.
Evaluating U.S. targeted airstrikes in Iraq he authorized on Thursday night, Obama said that the airstrikes against militants of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have succeeded in destroying arms and equipment that could have been used against the Kurdish capital of Erbil.
Meanwhile, humanitarian efforts continued to airdrop food and water to persecuted religious minorities stranded on a mountaintop, he said, adding that planning was underway for how to evacuate them.
Obama wouldn't give a timetable for how long the U.S. military involvement would last, saying that "I don't think we are going to solve this problem in weeks ... It's going to take some months."
The president also said that compared with the Iraqi army's combat ability, the advance of the ISIL forces was more rapid than anticipated. "Intelligence military analysts wrongly estimated strengthen of Iraqi army, Kurdish forces," he said.
American aircraft are positioned to strike ISIL terrorists around the mountain to help forces in Iraq break the siege and rescue those who are trapped there, he said.
Obama said the United States "will continue to work with the international community to deal with the growing humanitarian crisis in Iraq,"
Obama said he spoke on Saturday morning with British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande and that they agreed to join Washington in providing humanitarian assistance to Iraqi civilians.
"Now even as we deal with these immediate situations, we will continue to pursue a broader strategy in Iraq. We will protect our American citizens in Iraq, whether they're diplomats, civilians or military," he added.
Obama said the two goals of the airstrikes -- to protect American diplomats and military advisors from advancing ISIL terrorists and to get humanitarian aid to civilians who have fled from ISIL in Iraq's northern region -- could continue for some time.
"Thursday night, I made clear if that if they attempted to advance further, our military would respond with targeted strikes. That's what we've done. And if necessary, that's what we will continue to do," he said.
But Obama drew a line at becoming involved in a new war in Iraq, almost three years after withdrawing the last combat troops from the Middle East country.
"As commander in chief, I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq," he said. "American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq, because there's no American military solution to the larger crisis there."
Since dispatching 300 U.S. military advisors to Iraq in June to help the Baghdad government confront rapidly advancing ISIL terrorists, Obama has insisted that the solution to the Iraqi crisis must be political through the formation of a new Iraqi government that brings in minority Sunnis and Kurds in addition to Shiites, who have ruled since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.