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As Iraq violence grows, US sends more intelligence officers

US And Iraqi Forces Conduct Operations In Baghdad

(Reuters) - The United States is quietly expanding the number of intelligence officers in Iraq and holding urgent meetings in Washington and Baghdad to find ways to counter growing violence by Islamic militants, U.S. government sources said.

A high-level Pentagon team is now in Iraq to assess possible assistance for Iraqi forces in their fight against radical jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a group reconstituted from an earlier incarnation of al Qaeda, said two current government officials and one former U.S. official familiar with the matter.

The powerful ISIL, which seeks to impose strict sharia law in the Sunni majority populated regions of Iraq, now boasts territorial influence stretching from Iraq's western Anbar province to northern Syria, operating in some areas close to Baghdad, say U.S. officials.

Senior U.S. policy officials, known as the "Deputies Committee," met in Washington this week to discuss possible responses to the deteriorating security outlook in Iraq, said a government source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject matter.

The source did not know the outcome of the meeting.

White House spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan declined to comment.

The meetings underscore how Iraq's instability is posing a new foreign policy challenge for President Barack Obama, who celebrated the withdrawal of U.S. troops more than two years ago. Despite the concern, officials said it remains unclear whether Obama will commit significant new resources to the conflict.

Four months after Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki declared war on Sunni militants in Iraq's western Anbar province, the fighting has descended into brutal atrocities, often caught on video and in photographs by both militants and Iraqi soldiers.

Iraqi soldiers say they are bogged down in a slow, vicious fight with ISIL and other Sunni factions in the city of Ramadi and around nearby Falluja.

LIMITED OPTIONS

One former and two current U.S. security officials said the number of U.S. intelligence personnel in Baghdad had already begun to rise but that the numbers remained relatively small.

"It's more than before, but not really a lot," said one former official with knowledge of the matter.

Much of the pressure to do more is coming from the U.S. military, the former official said, but it is unclear if the White House wants to get more deeply involved.

After ending nearly nine years of war in Iraq, the United States has limited military options inside the country. About 100 U.S. military personnel remain, overseeing weapons sales and cooperation with Iraqi security forces.

The U.S. government has rushed nearly 100 Hellfire missiles, M4 rifles, surveillance drones and 14 million rounds of ammunition to the Iraqi military since January, U.S. officials said. The Obama administration has also started training Iraqi special forces in neighboring Jordan.

Before the U.S. military withdrew, it trained, equipped and conducted operations with Iraqi special forces.

Staff from the Pentagon's Central Command are working closely with the Iraqi military but have advised it against launching major operations due to concerns Iraqi forces are not prepared for such campaigns, the former U.S. official said.

In Anbar, militants have a major presence in Falluja, while in Ramadi there is a stalemate, with territory divided among Iraqi government forces, ISIL and other Sunni armed groups.

In testimony before the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee in February, Brett McGurk, the State Department's top official on Iraq, described how convoys of up to 100 trucks, mounted with heavy weapons and flying al Qaeda flags, moved into Ramadi and Falluja on New Year's Day.

Local forces in Ramadi subsequently succeeded in pushing militants back, but the situation in Falluja remained "far more serious," McGurk said.

(Additional reporting by Phil Stewart in Washington and by Ned Parker in Baghdad. Editing by Jason Szep and Ross Colvin)

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MARTHA & PERRY April 27 2014 at 9:58 AM

we need a total reboot of our govt.

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1 reply
hdvh56 MARTHA & PERRY April 27 2014 at 12:00 PM

We need a total boot of our government.....

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Rob April 27 2014 at 9:30 AM

Here we go AGAIN...Next will be advisors to re re re train Iraqi troops/policia and finally a *limited # of US troops * for observation purposes. (to ensure this already in place training is in place and adhered too?
I AM ILL.....

Flag Reply +6 rate up
Ed April 27 2014 at 9:27 AM

We are supposed to be getting out of there, not sending more of our people in!

Flag Reply +8 rate up
raydar67 April 27 2014 at 9:27 AM

Boy,we REALLY 'Screwed the Pooch'on that one.
And the hits just keep on commen.

Flag Reply +8 rate up
bert hall April 27 2014 at 9:26 AM

DO NOT SEND ANY MORE SOLDIER TO IRAQ TO BE KILLED,AND REMOVE THE SOLDIERS THAT ARE THERE. GOD BLESS THE SOLDIERS.

Flag Reply +10 rate up
NETTIE April 27 2014 at 9:17 AM

I guess quiet isn't quiet any more. I wish the U.S. military success in their mission and a safe trip home. Thank you.

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1 reply
doketx NETTIE April 27 2014 at 9:52 AM

The best way they can have a safe trip home, is to not be sent into Iraq in the first place. Thank his highness for me.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Del April 27 2014 at 8:40 AM

"to find ways to counter growing violence by Islamic militants, U.S. government sources said."
HELLO!!!!!!!!!! These countries are militants, they do not want to come out of the dark ages, they want to live like this. Many many hundreds of yrs this way of life have been put into their heads, change the way of thinking, I think not.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
1 reply
hanna vanhoose Del April 27 2014 at 9:20 AM

del, you are right. you cannot change the way of thinking over there. they have been at it too long and too heavy and they don't really have any idea how to live another way than to fight and kill. it is a no win situation for us to keep this up. we have lost too many now and for no good reason and our gov really helps by cutting their pay and benefits . too many vets are not getting proper care if any right now and some have died but our president can afford to pay millions each year to Karzai and the muslim brotherhood and other American hating jokers. truly sad for americans

Flag Reply +1 rate up
backinblack4269 April 27 2014 at 8:38 AM

We took out the bad guys from these countries who the really bad guys feared. Now the really bad guys are in control.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
1 reply
doketx backinblack4269 April 27 2014 at 10:22 AM

We made their bed for them, now they can lie in it.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Emmitt April 27 2014 at 8:27 AM

Either go in there and make that whole region a sheet of glass or get the hell out of there. Nothing, and I mean nothing, is going to change the mindset of those people. Iraq, Iran, Afganistan, Pakistan, and all the little countries in that region that have been living in turmoil since the beginning of time. I am sick and tired of wating billions of dollars over there for nothing, We have better things in our own country to put that money towards. It's called infratructure, something that is becoming a big problem. We need to get the old school congressman and senators off of capitol hill and start makin some serious changes.

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2 replies
Del Emmitt April 27 2014 at 8:44 AM

Dang, you have said it so perfect. I tried above to say same thing above, but I really like your thinking.
VERY VERY good, but try to get or gov. to see this, no way.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
skyman83d Emmitt April 27 2014 at 8:56 AM

right on

Flag Reply 0 rate up
redband April 27 2014 at 9:34 AM

If we stay their for fifty more years it will always stay the same. Their has always been fighting and killing going on in the middle east. And it only get's worse when outside so called help comes in. We should just leave those people alone, and bring our troops home.

Flag Reply +10 rate up
2 replies
irishgal5018 redband April 27 2014 at 9:58 AM

Yes, I agree that we should leave those people alone and bring our troops home. But, at the same time I think ALL muslims should be rounded up here in the US and sent back to their own country. Most, if not ALL muslims that live here in the States are harmful to WE THE PEOPLE and OUR country. Then the welfair rolls would drop way down and give some relief on monies being given and spent on OUR enemies that are living here. Muslims, no matter how "peacefull" they say and pretend they, they ARE NOT, and OUR COUNTRY will NOT be SAFE untill they are ALL gone from AMERICAN SOIL. That goes for ALL ILLEGAL ALIENS from mexico as well. They for the most part are thugs and gangs and drug cartell members that odumbo and the rest that are so head up for them to be "given" free CITIZENSHIP, just wants them here for their ILLEGAL votes in Nov.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
Nancy redband April 27 2014 at 10:15 AM

This is not the same. This is a country were WE declared a war and went in and overthrew the government. This was not two middle eastern countries at war. WE STARTED THIS WAR because our President lied and said Saddam had tried to buy yellow cake uranium and showed as proof a letter that his people had been told previously was a proven forgery but Bush showed to us and as proof anyway. The United Nations told Bush not to invade Iraq or he would be considered a war criminal but he had us to do it anyway in defiance of the world courts. (wonder why the world leaders consider us arrogant and world citizens don't respect us? We have shown we don't respect them.) Saddam hated and feared the Muslim religious fanatics and kept them out of Iraq. Once Bush got rid of Saddam, he opened up Iraq to all the terrorists Bush claimed he would get rid of. BUSH created this mess. Had we left these people alone and not declared war on them and went in and started killing their people and bombing their buildings, maybe there would be a little less hate towards the USA today. Thanks for your legacy of bankruptcy, death, and more lack of respect for the USA Dubya.

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