US President Barack Obama has made it clear that US troops will have no combat mission in Iraq.
“The American forces that have been deployed to Iraq do not and will not have a combat mission,” Mr Obama told American troops at the headquarters of US Central Command in Florida.
Mr Obama has repeatedly stressed that, despite ordering air strikes against IS in Syria and Iraq, he will not send US troops back to fight another land war in the region.
However, his comments contrasted with previous congressional testimony by General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who said he could recommend deploying ground operations against IS in Iraq if air strikes proved insufficient.
“I will not commit you, and the rest of our armed forces, to fighting another ground war in Iraq,” Mr Obama told the troops in Florida.
The president said more than 40 countries have offered assistance to the campaign against IS.
“Some nations will assist from the air and already France and the United Kingdom are flying with us over Iraq with others committed to join,” Obama said.
“Some nations will help us support the forces fighting these terrorists on the ground. Already Saudi Arabia has agreed to host our efforts to train and equip Syrian opposition forces. Australia and Canada will send military advisers to Iraq. German paratroopers will offer training. Other nations have helped resupply arms and equipment to forces in Iraq, including the Kurdish Peshmerga.”
The Islamic State group was established in Iraq but spread to Syria, where it grew exponentially in the chaos of the country’s civil war. Following its success in Syria, the extremist group’s fighters — including many Iraqi nationals — rampaged across northern and western Iraq in June, seizing control of a huge swath of territory.
The group now rules over land stretching from northern Syria to the outskirts of Baghdad.