Kerry: US considering 'range of options' in Iraq

Secretary of State John Kerry told his Iraqi counterpart that President Obama is examining a “range of options” as Iraqi security forces push back on advances by the militant group the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), according to the State Department.

Kerry told Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari that the U.S. is committed to supporting Iraq, according to a readout of the call.

Kerry, however, emphasized that U.S. assistance “would only be successful if Iraqi leaders were willing to put aside differences and implement a coordinated and effective approach to forge the national unity necessary to move the country forward and confront the threat of ISIL.”

Kerry called on the Iraqi government to quickly ratify election results, adhere to its timeframe for forming a new government and respect the rights of all citizens as it fights against terrorism.

The U.S. is reaching out to the international community and Iraq’s neighbors to emphasize the threat to Iraq and the importance of helping the country “at this critical juncture,” Kerry told Zebari.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Saturday ordered aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush to be moved into the Persian Gulf, bringing it closer to Iraq, the Pentagon said in a statement.

“The order will provide the Commander-in-Chief additional flexibility should military options be required to protect American lives, citizens and interests in Iraq,” according to Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby .

The spokesman said the aircraft carrier, currently located in the North Arabian Sea, is being accompanied by a guided-missile cruiser and a guided-missile destroyer.