President Barack Obama said Thursday he has been in close consultation with Iraqi officials as the violence in the country escalates.

US President Barack Obama speaks during a bilateral meeting with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott (L) in the Oval Office of the White House on June 12, 2014 in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

“I don’t rule out anything because we do have a stake in making sure that these jihadists are not getting a permanent foothold in Iraq or Syria for that matter,” Obama told reporters at the White House shortly after meeting with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

White House press secretary Jay Carney later explained, “We are not contemplating ground troops. The president was answering a question specifically about air strikes.”

The Blaze reported Wednesday that the United States is preparing a contingency plan to evacuate the U.S. embassy in Iraq.

“What we’ve seen over the last couple of days indicates the degree to which Iraq is going to need more help,” Obama said. “It’s going to need more help from us and the international community. My team is working around the clock to identify how we can provide the most effective assistance to them.”

Since the United State left Iraq, Obama said there needs to be more cooperation between the Sunnis and Shias to combat the radicals.

“Politics of Shia and Sunni inside of Iraq as well as the Kurds, is either going to be a help in dealing with this jihadist situation or it’s going to be a hindrance,” Obama said. “Frankly over the last several years, we have not seen the kind of trust and cooperation develop between moderate Sunni and Shia leaders inside of iraq. and that accounts in part for some of the weakness of the state and that then carries over into the military capacity.”

Islamic militant groups in the region took control of large areas in Iraq. The Al Qaeda-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and Iraqi military forces have had deadly clashes throughout the country. ISIL seized control of Mosul, Tikrit and Fallujah with the ambition to create an Islamic state across the Iraq-Syria border.

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