WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama pledged Friday to help combat an increasingly active al-Qaida in Iraq but stopped short of announcing new commitments of assistance sought by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Al-Maliki came to the Oval Office requesting additional aid, including weapons and help with intelligence, to fight insurgent violence that has spiked in Iraq since American troops left in 2011.
"Unfortunately al-Qaida has still been active and has grown more active recently," Obama said at the end of a nearly two-hour meeting. "So we had a lot of discussion about how we can work together to push back against that terrorist organization that operates not only in Iraq, but also poses a threat to the entire region and to the United States."
Al-Maliki declined to discuss the details of his request for U.S. assistance but said the meeting was "very positive."
The United Nations said Friday that violence across Iraq killed said 979 people were killed in October, the same number as in September.
Car bombings, shootings and other attacks have been on the rise all year, intensifying fears that widespread sectarian conflict again may overwhelm the country. Widespread chaos nearly tore the country apart in the aftermath of the U.S.-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein in 2003.