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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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blo2thehead April 26 2014 at 10:37 PM

Let the Klingons enjoy their culture of killing each other and send our guys home.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
boardworks April 27 2014 at 1:08 AM

Maybe they should send a team to Oakland!

Flag Reply +2 rate up
mesager42 April 27 2014 at 1:10 AM

Why is it our business to stabilize Iraq and keep the radicals from targeting each other?

Once again, Obama proves that he's about as liberal as John McCain when it comes to using our Department of Defense as a Department of Offense.

Our federal leaders keep spending our money on foreign nations while cutting our programs and spending here at home. Time to fire the bunch of them in November.

Quite frankly I don't care if Obama ends up with an unworkable Congress that makes him the lamest duck president that ever existed. He is supposed to be working for the American people - not for everyone else who doesn't pay taxes to OUR federal government.

War is cheap for wealthy government leaders within this nation if they keep spending our tax dollars like they can be harvested off of a money tree in the backyard of the White House.

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1 reply
samsuitt mesager42 April 27 2014 at 1:52 AM

Well, one reason might be because it was 100% our doing that DEstabilized them - and the rest of the region. Or are you just another right wing wacko with not a shred of a sense of responsibility?

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1 reply
d.carns samsuitt April 27 2014 at 2:16 AM

She makes more sense then you do. but your point is accurate on USA Obama being the root cause of the problems.

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Joe Wright April 27 2014 at 10:54 AM

Having spent two tours in Iraq as well as one most recently in Afghanistan, I say let their Iranian pals bail them out! The current government wanted us out in 2011. They got what they wanted. Iraq really has absolutely no importance to the security interests of the USA.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
dwtomczyk April 27 2014 at 2:16 AM

people fighting to pratice there relegion? where have i heard that before?

Flag Reply +4 rate up
thanadar April 27 2014 at 10:53 AM

We sent "advisors" to Vietnam, too, once upon a time and we all know how that turned out.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
kanenana April 27 2014 at 10:53 AM

As a 86 year old grandmother my question is why ? What long term goals to we hope to attain?
Goals that will remain.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
stevebakerguitar kanenana April 27 2014 at 11:07 AM

The USA still has a large military post & training in france & germany from the wars there?......

Flag Reply 0 rate up
stephenstonesoul April 27 2014 at 4:37 AM

It seems to me we should be identifying the problem, mobilizing, and taking them out. We are not fighting batallions of West Point Rangers or Navy Seals. Just do it and get it over with and leave a structure in place to prevent the same BS from happening again

Flag Reply +1 rate up
adavis1527 April 27 2014 at 10:52 AM

Who could have predicted this when Obama gave the terrorists a pull out date. Does he also tell his lawyer opponents his plans before a trial? Imagine terrorists waiting until the US pulls out and declares victory, to show that Obama is an image man not a fact man. His speak is like toxic emissions. It has a loud sound but smalls bad. Who does this administration's leaders think they are fooling. Certainly not other country's leaders or our enemies.

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1 reply
gjandy adavis1527 April 27 2014 at 11:37 AM

Hey Moron......did you forget that it was George Bush that started this mess!!

Flag Reply 0 rate up
aajarm April 27 2014 at 4:45 AM

The problem isn't Islamic militants, it is ISLAM ...MUSLIMS ...period. They are all a problem.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
1 reply
harry aajarm April 27 2014 at 6:21 AM

let's have them all immigrate over here... why in Boston did you know the mayor gave the Mslims land and public funds for thier new mosque? When will we learn.. pacification never works

Flag Reply +4 rate up
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