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WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama said Thursday that Iraq will need additional assistance from the U.S. to push back an Islamic insurgency.

The president did not specify in a brief question-and-answer session what type of assistance he is willing to provide. But Obama did say the White House has not ruled anything out. He said he is watching the situation in Iraq with concern and wants to ensure that jihadists don't get a foothold.

Iraq has been beset by violence since the last American forces withdrew in late 2011. The violence escalated this week with an al-Qaida-inspired group capturing two key Sunni-dominated cities this week and vowing to march on to Baghdad.

Obama spoke following an Oval Office meeting with visiting Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

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