Lt. Gen. Qassim Atta (Sabah Arar / AFP)
BAGHDAD — Baghdad wants a “true intervention” by the United States, which fought a bloody almost nine-year war in Iraq, to help combat a sweeping militant offensive, a senior officer said Wednesday.
“We hope that there will be a true intervention in order to offer real help for Iraq,” Lt. Gen. Qassem Atta, the premier’s security spokesman, said in televised remarks.
Atta also said that American military advisers, who could eventually number up to 300, have begun meeting with Iraqi commanders.
The militant offensive, led by jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant but involving other groups as well, has overrun large areas of five Iraqi provinces since it began late on June 9.
With its security forces folding in the face of the initial onslaught and later struggling to hold ground, Iraq asked Washington to carry out air strikes to help turn the tide.
But President Barack Obama, who made his political career opposing the war in Iraq, has so far declined, instead offering to dispatch US military advisers who could also play a role in calling in air strikes if needed.
But their primary task is to evaluate Iraqi forces and not to turn the tide against the militants, Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said.
He added the United States had expanded its surveillance flights over Iraq, with manned and unmanned aircraft, and was conducting 30-35 sorties daily.
Washington has said it has received legal guarantees from Iraq to shield the advisers, but they fall short of the parliament-approved legal immunity it demanded during talks on a post-2011 American military presence in the country.