DUBAI (Reuters) - President Barack Obama's plan to send advisers to Iraq to help Baghdad counter Sunni Islamist militants shows the United States is not serious about fighting terrorism, an Iranian official was quoted by official media as saying on Friday.
Obama on Thursday offered up to 300 Americans to help coordinate the fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). But he held off granting a request for air strikes from the Shi'ite-led government and renewed a call for Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to do more to overcome sectarian divisions that have fueled resentment among the Sunni minority.
“Obama’s recent remarks showed that the White House lacks serious will for confronting terrorism in Iraq and the region,” the official IRNA news agency reported Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir Abdollahian as saying.
Abdollahian said the U.S. “delay” in fighting terrorism and the ISIL has “fueled suspicions and doubts about the U.S. objectives in Iraq,” IRNA reported.
Another official, Hamid Aboutalebi, who works in the office of President Hassan Rouhani, also criticized Obama's remarks, the news agency said.
"The U.S. cannot adopt contradictory policies in the Middle East; to support war in Syria and peace in Iraq or be on the side of terrorists in Syria and against them in Iraq," Aboutalebi wrote on his Twitter account on Friday, IRNA said.
Iraqi forces were massing north of Baghdad on Friday, aiming to strike back at the Islamists' offensive towards the capital. [ID:nL6N0P12GT]
(Reporting by William Maclean; Editing by Louise Ireland)