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Boehner: More gear to fight Al Qaeda in Iraq, but no troops

WASHINGTON — House Speaker John A. Boehner said Thursday that President Obama should take a more active role in helping the Iraqi government overcome an Al Qaeda-aligned insurgency in the embattled city of Fallouja, but stopped short of calling for a deployment of U.S. troops “at this point in time.”

Militants have reportedly seized the Sunni stronghold amid renewed sectarian violence in Anbar province, the site of some of the most violent battles during the 2003-2011 U.S. occupation of Iraq.

“We need to get equipment to the Iraqis and other services,” said Boehner, an Ohio Republican. “There are things that we can do to help the Iraqis that do not involve putting U.S. troops on the ground.”

Pressed if he favored a reengagement of military troops in Iraq, Boehner said: “I do not think that is called for at this point in time.”

The Obama administration said in November that it would begin boosting U.S. military support for Baghdad after five years of reducing it, an acknowledgment of the country’s deteriorating security situation. Officials said they would seek congressional approval to provide Apache helicopters, missiles and intelligence support.

Secretary of State John F. Kerry said over the weekend that the U.S. would be sending aid and advice to help the Iraqi government, but not troops. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) agreed there was not a "hint" of discussion of sending troops back to Iraq.

But Boehner criticized Obama for failing to reach an agreement with Iraq to keep U.S. troops in the country and said the president has since neglected the growing problems there.

Reid said the speaker’s criticism of the White House “takes a lot of gall.

Congress has been reluctant to engage in overseas military activity in the aftermath of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and there has been resistance among some lawmakers to increasing the Pentagon’s budget.

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Lisa.Mascaro@latimes.com

Twitter: @LisaMascaroinDC

Michael.Memoli@latimes.com

Twitter: @MikeMemoli

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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