Two and a half years after President Barack Obama disentangled America from a long, unpopular war in Iraq, his options for helping the government in Baghdad stave off a militant onslaught are slim as doubts simmer over whether even punishing airstrikes would be effective.

He will announce in the coming days how far he is willing to go in responding to the crisis in Iraq, where militants are sweeping south toward the capital in a campaign to recreate a large medieval Islamic caliphate spanning Iraq and Syria.

While Obama has ruled out sending combat troops, U.S. officials say options under consideration include airstrikes on Sunni insurgents threatening the Shiite-led government, accelerated delivery of weapons and expanded training of Iraqi security forces. The U.S. already has increased intelligence-gathering flights by drone aircraft over Iraq, officials said.