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Obama: US prepared to take 'targeted and precise' military action if needed in Iraq

After meeting with his national security team on the current turmoil in Iraq, President Barack Obama announced Thursday that the U.S. had positioned military assets in the region and would be prepared to take 'targeted and precise' action if needed.

The U.S. is prepared to send up to 300 new American military advisers to bolster the ranks of those already in Iraq, the president said, adding that U.S. forces are also ready to create joint operations centers in Baghdad and the north of the country to share intelligence and coordinate planning.

Read MoreIraq war: Here are the worst and best scenarios

When asked if these advisers are a preview of a full-scale combat deployment, Obama emphasized that "American combat troops are not going to be fighting in Iraq again." He explained, however, that it is in the national security interest of the U.S. not to see a full civil war in Iraq because of nearby allies, an interest in global energy markets, and a desire not to give radical terrorist groups a geographic stronghold from which to launch attacks.

President Barack Obama makes a statement on the situation in Iraq on June 19, 2014.
Source: Whitehouse.gov
President Barack Obama makes a statement on the situation in Iraq on June 19, 2014.

Obama also announced that he will be sending Secretary of State John Kerry to meetings in the Middle East and Europe to consult with allies about Iraq. Ultimately, however, the president emphasized that he hopes Iraqi leaders will take the lead on creating peace.

Read More Iraq is on the verge of collapse: David Phillips

"Above all Iraqi leaders must rise above their differences and come together around a political plan for Iraq's future," the president said.

The situation in Iraq continues to worsen as Sunni militias—spearheaded by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS)—have seized broad swaths of the country, including Iraq's second-largest city. Shiite fighters and Iranian troops have reportedly mobilized from the country's south and east to fight the insurgency, leading many experts to project a protracted and bloody sectarian war.

Read MoreUS shifts focus away from Iraq airstrikes

Acknowledging that "it's not the place for the United States to choose Iraq's leaders," Obama expressed his hope for an inclusive government that can build consensus across different communities and represent "the legitimate interest of all Iraqis."

Obama divulged that the U.S. government has had private discussions with Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, emphasizing that his government in Baghdad can only hope to solve the current crisis through an inclusive political agenda.

Reports from Wednesday said that Obama had moved away from considering imminent air strikes in Iraq, and last week the president said that he would not be sending ground troops to fight the insurgents. The U.S. did, however, deploy up to 275 troops to protect embassy staff and other U.S. personnel.

Read MoreObama: No ground troops in Iraq

—By CNBC staff

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