Back to Iraq: Obama sending military advisers

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Friday, June 20, 2014

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

The president announced 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.

(Copyright 2014, The Associated Press)