President Barack Obama said sending more US troops to Iraq signals a new phase in the fight against the Islamic State and Levant (ISIL) group.
After earlier unveiling plans to send up to 1,500 more American troops to Iraq to advise and train its forces, Obama told CBS "Face the Nation" on Sunday that the U.S.-led effort to defeat ISIL was moving to a new stage.
"Phase one was getting an Iraqi government that was inclusive and credible — and we now have done that," Obama said.
"Rather than just try to halt (ISIL's) momentum, we're now in a position to start going on some offence," he added, stressing the need for Iraqi ground troops to start pushing back ISIL fighters.
"We will provide them close air support once they are prepared to start going on the offence against (ISIL)," Obama said.
"But what we will not be doing is having our troops do the fighting."
Instead, he explained, the new deployment of up to 1,500 soldiers will work at four training centers with members of the U.S.-led coalition to train Iraqi soldiers and assist them with the strategy and logistics to fight ISIS on the ground. When they begin to go on the offense against ISIL, the U.S. will provide close air support.
Going on the offensive will be a significant challenge for Iraq's forces, which saw multiple divisions fall apart in the early days of the ISIL June offensive, leaving major units that need to be reconstituted.
Obama also said that the U.S. still believes that Syrian President Bashar Assad needs to step down from power.
"It is still our policy, and it's an almost absolute certainty that he has lost legitimacy with such a large portion of the country by dropping barrel bombs and killing children and destroying villages that were defenseless, that he can't regain the kind of legitimacy that would stitch that country back together again," the president said during the interview.
Meanwhile, the ISIL said that a British national had carried out a suicide bombing that killed a senior Iraqi police officer.
The group said in a statement posted online that "Abu Sumayyah al-Britani" detonated a truck carrying eight tons of explosives on the outskirts of the northern town of Beiji, killing Major General Faisal al-Zamili.
Friday's attack came during heavy clashes as pro-government forces seek to fully retake Beiji.
Iraqi military said they have now reached the oil center.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group, meanwhile said Sunday that fighting for the border town of Kobane in neighboring Syria had now killed more than 1,000 people.
Al Jazeera and wire services