The military authorisation given by US President Barack Obama to target jihadist forces inside Iraq is "very limited in scope", the White House said today, adding that the administration is not looking at prolonged military action or deploying troops on the ground.
Hours after the US military conducted air strikes in parts of Iraq controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorists, the White House insisted that the president`s decision in this regard is limited and he is determined not to go back to war in Iraq.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, told reporters that the US is not contemplating introduction of American forces in combat roles in Iraq, even as he acknowledged the future of Iraq is under grave threat by ISIL.
"It is only the people of Iraq and a united and inclusive Iraqi government can successfully meet the challenges posed by ISIL," he said.
The Obama administration is ready to provide all the support it can to meet the challenges posed by ISIL, but without being dragged into war once again, Earnest said.
"The authorisation that the President has given for military action, is very limited in scope, and was clearly described in the remarks that he delivered last night," Earnest said.
Last night, Obama said as commander-in-chief he will not allow the US to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq.
"So even as we support Iraqis as they take the fight to these terrorists, American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq," Obama had said.
"So that is a pretty clear expression from the commander-in-chief about what our intentions are and what the limit of any sort of military action would be," Earnest said.
"That is a clear enunciation of the kind of principle that`s at stake here, which is this belief that there are many challenges facing the people of Iraq right now.
"If there is a role for the American military to play in supporting the Iraqi people and that inclusive government and an integrated security force that is capable of defending the country then we`ll use that American military prowess in pursuit of that goal as well," he said.
"The primary goal of the mission that the President authorised last night was the protection of American personnel who are in Iraq.
"The President authorised military action to try to address an urgent, even dire humanitarian situation in Sinjar Mountain and more generally, a willingness on the part of the American people to continue to stand with the people of Iraq as they pursue a future that is reflective of the diverse population of the nation of Iraq," he said.
Noting that the future is under grave threat by ISIL extremists who are making advances across Iraq, Earnest said it is in the clear interest of American national security for the US to support the Iraqis as they confront the threat.
"But again, this is a threat that we cannot confront for them; it is a threat that can only be met and defeated by a unified Iraq in support of an integrated, capable Iraqi security force," Earnest said.