US House Speaker John Boehner said the United States should provide more equipment and other aid to the Iraqi government in its battle against al-Qaeda militants, but he ruled out a reintroduction of US troops for now.
The Republican leader said US President Barack Obama must get more involved in helping Iraq as it sought to reclaim two cities, Fallujah and Ramadi, overrun by al-Qaeda fighters. Boehner said the US had a vital national interest in Iraq and warned that the progress made by American forces before troops were withdrawn after nine years of war was being threatened.
"I think the president himself ought to take a more active role in dealing with the issues in Iraq," Boehner said. "Secondly, we need to get equipment to the Iraqis and other services that would help them battle this counterterrorism effort that they're attempting to do. There are things that we can do to help the Iraqis that do not involve putting US troops on the ground."
The Obama administration has ruled out sending American troops back in, but has been delivering missiles to help bolster Iraqi forces.
Separately, Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, said the US would assist Iraq but ruled out sending American troops back. "They're home. The American people are glad. They're coming back from Afghanistan," Reid said.
Boehner did not specify what aid the US should provide. His office cited the sale of Apache helicopters and other military equipment that Senator Bob Menendez had been blocking for months.
Menendez, chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, is concerned the Iraqi government could use the materiel for internal crackdowns instead of national defence.