By Justin Sink - 06/10/14 03:00 PM EDT
The White House on Tuesday condemned "in the strongest possible terms" the seizure of Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, by an Islamist offshoot of al Qaeda.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest called the situation "extremely serious" and said officials in Washington and Baghdad were "tracking events closely in coordination with the government of Iraq."
Insurgents with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant attacked Mosul, forcing out the Iraqi military and causing thousands of civilians to flee, according to reports.
The White House said it would "provide all necessary and appropriate assistance to the government of Iraq," but did not detail what aid was forthcoming.
Earnest pointedly noted that the U.S. was already providing military assistance to the Iraqi government, suggesting similar aid could be on the way.
"This is an illustration of the kind of military-to-military relationship we have with the government of Iraq," Earnest said.
He also said that the U.S. still felt "like we have a partner" with the Iraqi military despite the setback.
At the same time, Earnest said that Iraqi leaders would need to broker a diplomatic solution to the growing sectarian violence.
"While we can provide important military assistance to improve the security situation in Iraq, addressing these challenges is going to require a commitment by the Iraqi leadership, including Prime Minister Maliki, to confront the kind of unresolved issues that are facing all the people in Iraq," Earnest said.