Watch Live: Obama Addresses the Nation on Iraq


Editor's Note: This event is over. Here is our follow up story: Obama Announces Deployment of Military Advisers to Iraq 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama will make a statement at 12:30 p.m EDT (1630 GMT) about the situation in Iraq following a meeting with his national security team, the White House said on Thursday.

Obama, who has been deliberating whether to authorize U.S. air strikes to help stop an insurgency in Iraq, is expected to give an update on his thinking about potential American action in the region.

White House officials declined to comment specifically on what the president would say.

The United States, which invaded Iraq in 2003 to topple President Saddam Hussein and withdrew its troops in 2011, has said Iraq's government must take steps toward sectarian reconciliation before Obama will decide on any military action against the insurgency led by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, an al Qaeda splinter group.

The United States is flying F-18 attack aircraft launched from the carrier USS George H.W. Bush on missions over Iraq to conduct surveillance of insurgents who have seized part of the country, a U.S. official said on Thursday.

Obama ended the U.S.-led combat mission in Iraq, fulfilling a 2008 campaign promise, and has ruled out sending troops back to the country.