President Obama is ruling out - at least for now - air strikes on Sunni extremists in Iraq, choosing instead to pursue a politically-oriented strategy aimed at mending deep sectarian divisons that he believes have led to the fighting. Mr. Obama, aides say, will also provide more U.S. intelligence to the Iraqi military, and seek support for a political solution from regional allies.
The President will brief Republican and Democratic leaders from the House and Senate this afternoon on his administration's strategy.
Deferring air strikes is also an acknowledgement that the U.S., which withdrew the last of its forces from Iraq in 2011, lacks sufficient information that would be crucial to any attacks.
The White House and Pentagon also appear skeptical about the effectiveness of airstrikes - and may instead send special operations forces to Iraq to provide intelligence and battlefield advice to Iraq's military. U.S. officials stress that any American forces would not be involved in any direct combat roles in Iraq.
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