"We gave Iraq the chance to have an inclusive democracy," Obama told a news channel in an interview on Friday asserting that US would also like to see Iraq create a command structure that includes Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds, the country's three chief groups.

Obama on Thursday made clear that America was not returning to a combat role in Iraq but said that US was prepared to send 300 military advisers to assist Iraq.

The first of US advisers will arrive in Iraq as soon as Saturday; the news channel reported citing a senior defence official.

Sunni militants, called the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), said to be an Al Qaeda splinter group, have surged over from northern Syria to blitz major Iraqi cities.

Senior US officials cited by CNN said Obama's administration believes that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is not the leader Iraq needs to unify the country and end sectarian tensions. His government is dominated by Shiites.

"It's spies, not soldiers, which are the key to beating ISIS," suggested Foreign Policy magazine.

"In ordering hundreds of military advisors to Iraq and dramatically ramping up intelligence-gathering on jihadist fighters threatening Baghdad," it said.

Obama sent his strongest signal yet that US airstrikes against ISIS may be likely.


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