As the scale of the threat from militants who have now seized several Iraqi cities became clear, Iraq's government asked the US to strike militant positions—only to find Washington, somewhat unsurprisingly, reluctant to become involved in new military action in the country. Requests for both manned and unmanned strikes on militant staging areas in the west of the country were rebuffed, American and Iraqi officials tell the New York Times. The US says it is preparing to send new aid to Iraq, the AP reports, but lawmakers want to see Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki change tactics that have raised sectarian tensions and boosted the Sunni insurgency.
The White House says it will work with Congress to provide "flexibility and resources" to help Iraq "effectively and sustainably" contain the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and a senior official speaking under condition of anonymity says drone strikes are still an option. More than 500,000 people have fled the fighting in Iraq and the militants plan to continue the push, CNN reports. In a recording issued last night, militant leaders urged fighters not to "give up a hand's width of ground you've liberated" and promised that the fight would be taken to Baghdad. (Read more Iraq stories.)