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Kerry: US will support Iraq, but without troops

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, speaks with Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah before their meeting in Rawdat Khurayim, a secluded royal hunting retreat in Saudi Arabia, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, speaks with Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah before their meeting in Rawdat Khurayim, a secluded royal hunting retreat in Saudi Arabia, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, speaks with Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah before their meeting in Rawdat Khurayim, a secluded royal hunting retreat in Saudi Arabia, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, speaks with Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah before their meeting in Rawdat Khurayim, a secluded royal hunting retreat in Saudi Arabia, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)

  • U.S. Ambassador to Jordan Stuart E. Jones, left, Jordan's King Abdullah II, right, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry talk before attending a meeting at al-Hummar Palace in Amman on Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014. America's top diplomat is trying to nudge Israel and the Palestinians closer to signing an accord, setting up a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Kerry said Saturday that progress is being made, yet key hurdles are yet to be overcome. Kerry's talks on Sunday with Jordan's King Abdullah II and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah are likely to also touch on the war in Syria, rising violence in Iraq, and Iran's nuclear program. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)

    U.S. Ambassador to Jordan Stuart E. Jones, left, Jordan's King Abdullah II, right, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry talk before attending a meeting at al-Hummar Palace in Amman on Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014. America's top diplomat is trying to nudge Israel and the Palestinians closer to signing an accord, setting up a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Kerry said Saturday that progress is being made, yet key hurdles are yet to be overcome. Kerry's talks on Sunday with Jordan's King Abdullah II and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah are likely to also touch on the war in Syria, rising violence in Iraq, and Iran's nuclear program. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)

  • U.S. Ambassador to Jordan Stuart E. Jones, left, Jordan's King Abdullah II, right, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry talk before attending a meeting at al-Hummar Palace in Amman on Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014. America's top diplomat is trying to nudge Israel and the Palestinians closer to signing an accord, setting up a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Kerry said Saturday that progress is being made, yet key hurdles are yet to be overcome. Kerry's talks on Sunday with Jordan's King Abdullah II and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah are likely to also touch on the war in Syria, rising violence in Iraq, and Iran's nuclear program. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)

    U.S. Ambassador to Jordan Stuart E. Jones, left, Jordan's King Abdullah II, right, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry talk before attending a meeting at al-Hummar Palace in Amman on Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014. America's top diplomat is trying to nudge Israel and the Palestinians closer to signing an accord, setting up a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Kerry said Saturday that progress is being made, yet key hurdles are yet to be overcome. Kerry's talks on Sunday with Jordan's King Abdullah II and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah are likely to also touch on the war in Syria, rising violence in Iraq, and Iran's nuclear program. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's motorcade is parked near al-Hussein mosque while Kerry meets with Jordan's King Abdullah II at Al-Hummar Palace in Amman, Jordan, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014. America's top diplomat is trying to nudge Israel and the Palestinians closer to signing an accord, setting up a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Kerry said Saturday that progress is being made, yet key hurdles are yet to be overcome. Kerry's talks on Sunday with Jordan's King Abdullah II and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah are likely to also touch on the war in Syria, rising violence in Iraq, and Iran's nuclear program. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's motorcade is parked near al-Hussein mosque while Kerry meets with Jordan's King Abdullah II at Al-Hummar Palace in Amman, Jordan, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014. America's top diplomat is trying to nudge Israel and the Palestinians closer to signing an accord, setting up a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Kerry said Saturday that progress is being made, yet key hurdles are yet to be overcome. Kerry's talks on Sunday with Jordan's King Abdullah II and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah are likely to also touch on the war in Syria, rising violence in Iraq, and Iran's nuclear program. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)

  • US Secretary of State John Kerry, Left,  speaks with Jordan's King Abdullah II before a meeting at Al-Hummar Palace in Amman on Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014. America's top diplomat is trying to nudge the two closer to signing an accord, setting up a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Kerry said Saturday that progress is being made, yet key hurdles are yet to be overcome. Kerry's talks on Sunday with Jordan's King Abdullah II and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah are likely to also touch on the war in Syria, rising violence in Iraq, and Iran's nuclear program. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)

    US Secretary of State John Kerry, Left, speaks with Jordan's King Abdullah II before a meeting at Al-Hummar Palace in Amman on Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014. America's top diplomat is trying to nudge the two closer to signing an accord, setting up a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Kerry said Saturday that progress is being made, yet key hurdles are yet to be overcome. Kerry's talks on Sunday with Jordan's King Abdullah II and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah are likely to also touch on the war in Syria, rising violence in Iraq, and Iran's nuclear program. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)

  • US Secretary of State John Kerry, Left,  speaks with Jordan's King Abdullah II before a meeting at Al-Hummar Palace in Amman on Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014. America's top diplomat is trying to nudge the two closer to signing an accord, setting up a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Kerry said Saturday that progress is being made, yet key hurdles are yet to be overcome. Kerry's talks on Sunday with Jordan's King Abdullah II and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah are likely to also touch on the war in Syria, rising violence in Iraq, and Iran's nuclear program. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)

    US Secretary of State John Kerry, Left, speaks with Jordan's King Abdullah II before a meeting at Al-Hummar Palace in Amman on Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014. America's top diplomat is trying to nudge the two closer to signing an accord, setting up a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Kerry said Saturday that progress is being made, yet key hurdles are yet to be overcome. Kerry's talks on Sunday with Jordan's King Abdullah II and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah are likely to also touch on the war in Syria, rising violence in Iraq, and Iran's nuclear program. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)

  • Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah speak with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry before their meeting in Rawdat Khurayim, a secluded royal hunting retreat in Saudi Arabia, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)

    Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah speak with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry before their meeting in Rawdat Khurayim, a secluded royal hunting retreat in Saudi Arabia, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)

  • Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah speak with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry before their meeting in Rawdat Khurayim, a secluded royal hunting retreat in Saudi Arabia, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)

    Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah speak with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry before their meeting in Rawdat Khurayim, a secluded royal hunting retreat in Saudi Arabia, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, speaks with Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah before their meeting in Rawdat Khurayim, a secluded royal hunting retreat in Saudi Arabia, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)
  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, speaks with Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah before their meeting in Rawdat Khurayim, a secluded royal hunting retreat in Saudi Arabia, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)
  • U.S. Ambassador to Jordan Stuart E. Jones, left, Jordan's King Abdullah II, right, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry talk before attending a meeting at al-Hummar Palace in Amman on Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014. America's top diplomat is trying to nudge Israel and the Palestinians closer to signing an accord, setting up a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Kerry said Saturday that progress is being made, yet key hurdles are yet to be overcome. Kerry's talks on Sunday with Jordan's King Abdullah II and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah are likely to also touch on the war in Syria, rising violence in Iraq, and Iran's nuclear program. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)
  • U.S. Ambassador to Jordan Stuart E. Jones, left, Jordan's King Abdullah II, right, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry talk before attending a meeting at al-Hummar Palace in Amman on Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014. America's top diplomat is trying to nudge Israel and the Palestinians closer to signing an accord, setting up a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Kerry said Saturday that progress is being made, yet key hurdles are yet to be overcome. Kerry's talks on Sunday with Jordan's King Abdullah II and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah are likely to also touch on the war in Syria, rising violence in Iraq, and Iran's nuclear program. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)
  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's motorcade is parked near al-Hussein mosque while Kerry meets with Jordan's King Abdullah II at Al-Hummar Palace in Amman, Jordan, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014. America's top diplomat is trying to nudge Israel and the Palestinians closer to signing an accord, setting up a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Kerry said Saturday that progress is being made, yet key hurdles are yet to be overcome. Kerry's talks on Sunday with Jordan's King Abdullah II and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah are likely to also touch on the war in Syria, rising violence in Iraq, and Iran's nuclear program. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)
  • US Secretary of State John Kerry, Left,  speaks with Jordan's King Abdullah II before a meeting at Al-Hummar Palace in Amman on Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014. America's top diplomat is trying to nudge the two closer to signing an accord, setting up a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Kerry said Saturday that progress is being made, yet key hurdles are yet to be overcome. Kerry's talks on Sunday with Jordan's King Abdullah II and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah are likely to also touch on the war in Syria, rising violence in Iraq, and Iran's nuclear program. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)
  • US Secretary of State John Kerry, Left,  speaks with Jordan's King Abdullah II before a meeting at Al-Hummar Palace in Amman on Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014. America's top diplomat is trying to nudge the two closer to signing an accord, setting up a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Kerry said Saturday that progress is being made, yet key hurdles are yet to be overcome. Kerry's talks on Sunday with Jordan's King Abdullah II and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah are likely to also touch on the war in Syria, rising violence in Iraq, and Iran's nuclear program. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)
  • Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah speak with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry before their meeting in Rawdat Khurayim, a secluded royal hunting retreat in Saudi Arabia, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)
  • Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah speak with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry before their meeting in Rawdat Khurayim, a secluded royal hunting retreat in Saudi Arabia, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)

JERUSALEM — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday that the United States will support Iraq’s fight against al-Qaida-linked militants who have overrun two cities, but won’t send in American troops.

Kerry said the militants are trying to destabilize the region and undermine a democratic process in Iraq, and that the U.S. is in contact with tribal leaders in Anbar province who are standing up to the terrorists.

But, he said, “this is a fight that belongs to the Iraqis. That is exactly what the president and the world decided some time ago when we left Iraq, so we are not obviously contemplating returning. We are not contemplating putting boots on the ground. This is their fight. ... We will help them in their fight, but this fight, in the end, they will have to win and I am confident they can.”

Al-Qaida linked gunmen have largely taken over the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi in an uprising that has been a blow to the Shiite-led government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Bombings in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, killed at least 20 people Sunday.

“We are very, very concerned about the efforts of al-Qaida and the Islamic State of Iraq in the Levant, which is affiliated with al-Qaida, who are trying to assert their authority not just in Iraq, but in Syria,” Kerry said.

“These are the most dangerous players in that region. Their barbarism against the civilians in Ramadi and Fallujah and against Iraqi security forces is on display for everyone in the world to see.”

Kerry made the comments as he left Jerusalem for talks with leaders in Jordan and Saudi Arabia about his Mideast peace-making efforts after three days of lengthy meetings with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Kerry said some progress was made in what he described as “very serious, very intensive conversations,” but key hurdles are yet to be overcome.

His talks with Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh covered the peace process, Syria and Iraq.

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