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As radical Islamists push forward in Iraq and the government scrambles to protect the capital from insurgents, the U.S. is caught in between, contemplating whether or not to send military assistance.

If you recall, Kurdish forces took control of a provincial capital in the oil-rich north on Thursday and Sunni militants threatened to march on two cities revered by Shiite Muslims and the capital.

Violence is spreading and security deteriorating in the nation, prompting U.S. President Barack Obama to say the beleaguered government required assistance.

“It’s going to need more help from us, and it’s going to need more help from the international community,” Obama said. “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 either Iraq or Syria.”

As of Friday, the White House says there will be no boots on the ground. A senior Obama administration official said the President has not yet made a decision whether to act on any military options.

A decision is expected as early as this weekend.

Airstrikes are among the options on the table, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Thursday. But there will be no repeat of a large U.S. troop presence on Iraqi soil.

“We are not contemplating ground troops,” Carney said. “I want to be clear about that.”

Secretary of State John Kerry called the latest events in Iraq a “wake up call” for Iraq’s divided political leadership, which has been accused of failing to address growing sectarian divisions.

Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday that the militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, are a threat not just to Iraq, but to the United States and the rest of the world — and that is why Obama is urgently considering his next steps.

“Every country that understands the importance of stability in the Middle East needs to be concerned about what is happening,” Kerry said, speaking at a summit in London.

“That is why I am confident the United States will move rapidly and confidently in order to join with its allies in dealing with this challenge.”

Meanwhile, Sen. John McCain said Thursday that Obama’s entire national security team should resign over the resurgence of Islamic militants in Iraq.

“Everybody in his national security team, including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, ought to be replaced,” the Arizona Republican told reporters ahead of a classified Senate Armed Services Committee briefing on the deteriorating situation in Iraq. “It’s a colossal failure of American security policy.”

You can read the rest of McCain’s blistering critique here.

SOURCE: CNN, Politico | VIDEO SOURCE: News Inc.