Obama: Iraq needs U.S., international help as ISIS threatens to seize more cities

(CNN) -- As radical Islamist militants surged through Iraq -- and threatened its capital -- U.S. President Barack Obama conceded the turbulent situation demanded significant assistance immediately and over the long-term for the Baghdad-based central government.

"It's going to need more help from us, and it's going to need more help from the international community," Obama said Thursday. "... I don't rule out anything because we do have a stake in making sure that these jihadists are not getting a permanent foothoold in either Iraq or Syria."

The jihadists he is referring to belong to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, which wants to establish an Islamic caliphate, or state, in the region. It's already had significant success to date in Syria, where it has been engaged in the civil war against President Bashar al-Assad's government, and in Iraq, where its fighters recently took over the nation's second-largest city of Mosul.

On Thursday, ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani purportedly could be heard in an audio recording posted on the group's media website. CNN cannot confirm the authenticity of the 17-minute audio statement or the time of its recording.

The voice implores fighters not to "give up a hand's width of ground you've liberated," as well as to expand the campaign.

"Continue your march as the battle is not yet raging," the man says. "It will rage in Baghdad and Karbala. So be ready for it."

The militants' march has caught the world's attention. That includes the United States, which led the 2003 invasion that resulted in the toppling of longtime leader Saddam Hussein. Since then, Iraq has seen instability and violence, though none, in recent years, rivals what is happening now.

As to what Washington may do to combat the Islamists, U.S. officials discussed bolstering ongoing efforts to send arms, equipment and intelligence information to help Iraq and its military.

Air strikes are among the options being considered, White House spokesman Jay Carney said. But there won't be a repeat of a large U.S. troop presence on Iraqi soil.

"We are not contemplating ground troops," Carney said. "I want to be clear about that."

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