By Mario Trujillo - 11/09/14 10:30 AM EST
President Obama did not rule out the possibility of sending additional troops into Iraq during an interview broadcast on Sunday.
"You know, as commander in chief, I'm never going to say never," he said during an appearance on CBS's "Face the Nation." "But what the commanders who presented the plan to me say is that we may actually see fewer troops over time, because now we're seeing coalition members starting to partner with us on the training and assist effort.”
The Pentagon on Friday announced the addition of 1,500 troops to Iraq to serve in a noncombat role to help train Iraqi forces. The addition pushed the total number of U.S. troops in the country to 3,200.
The United States has also continued to launch airstrikes in Iraq and Syria to help in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS or ISIL). Obama reiterated his vow that U.S. troops would not serve in a combat role.
"What we learned from the previous engagement in Iraq is that our military is always the best," he said. "We can always knock out, knock back any threat. But then, when we leave, that threat comes back."
"Essentially what we're doing is, we're taking four training centers with coalition members that allow us to bring in Iraqi recruits, some of the Sunni tribes that are still resisting ISIL, giving them proper training, proper equipment, helping them with strategy, helping them with logistics," he added, using an alternate name for the terror group.
On Iran, Obama again reiterated there is no link between nuclear negotiations with the country and the issue of ISIS.
Reports surfaced last week that Obama sent a letter to Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last month, in which he allegedly said that any cooperation in Iraq and Syria could hinge on Iran coming to a nuclear agreement in negotiations with the United States and five other countries.
Obama again declined to confirm the letter. He noted that the two countries have a shared enemy in ISIS.
"But I've been very clear publicly and privately we are not connecting in any way the nuclear negotiations from the issue of ISIL. We're not coordinating with Iran on ISIL," he said, noting there is a small amount of communication because both countries have forces in the region.
Obama said gaps still remain in nuclear negotiations, which are set to expire later this month. "We may not be able to get there," he said.
"And the question now is, are we going to be able to close this final gap so that they can re-enter the international community, sanctions can be slowly reduced, and we have verifiable, lock-tight assurances that they can't develop a nuclear weapon," he said.