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Nearly 300 armed American forces positions in and around Iraq

Obama Tells Congress U.S. Deploying Up to 275 Troops to Iraq

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Nearly 300 armed American forces are being positioned in and around Iraq to help secure U.S. assets as President Barack Obama nears a decision on an array of options for combating fast-moving Islamic insurgents, including airstrikes or a contingent of special forces.

The U.S. and Iran also held an initial discussion on how the longtime foes might cooperate to ease the threat from the al-Qaida-linked militants that have swept through Iraq. Still, the White House ruled out the possibility that Washington and Tehran might coordinate military operations in Iraq.

Obama met with his national security team Monday evening to discuss options for stopping the militants known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Officials said the president has made no final decisions on how aggressively the U.S. might get involved in Iraq, though the White House continued to emphasize that any military engagement remained contingent on the government in Baghdad making political reforms.

Still, there were unmistakable signs of Americans returning to a country from which the U.S. military fully withdrew more than two years ago. Obama notified Congress that up to 275 troops would be sent to Iraq to provide support and security for U.S. personnel and the American Embassy in Baghdad. The soldiers - 170 of which have already arrived in Iraq - were armed for combat, though Obama has insisted he does not intend for U.S. forces to be engaged in direct fighting.

About 100 additional forces are being put on standby, most likely in Kuwait, and could be used for airfield management, security and logistics support, officials said.

Separately, three U.S. officials said the White House was considering sending a contingent of special forces soldiers to Iraq. Their limited mission - which has not yet been approved - would focus on training and advising beleaguered Iraqi troops, many of whom have fled their posts across the nation's north and west as the al-Qaida-inspired insurgency has advanced in the worst threat to the country since American troops left in 2011.

Taken together, the developments suggest a willingness by Obama to send Americans into a collapsing security situation in order to quell the brutal fighting in Iraq before it morphs into outright war.

If the U.S. were to deploy an additional team of special forces, the mission almost certainly would be small. One U.S. official said it could be up to 100 special forces soldiers. It also could be authorized only as an advising and training mission - meaning the soldiers would work closely with Iraqi forces that are fighting the insurgency but would not officially be considered combat troops.

The White House would not confirm that special operations forces were under consideration. But spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said that while Obama would not send troops back into combat, "He has asked his national security team to prepare a range of other options that could help support Iraqi security forces."

It's not clear how quickly the special forces could arrive in Iraq. It's also unknown whether they would remain in Baghdad or be sent to the nation's north, where the Sunni Muslim insurgency has captured large swaths of territory ringing Baghdad, the capital of the Shiite-led government.

The troops would fall under the authority of the U.S. ambassador in Baghdad and would not be authorized to engage in combat, another U.S. official said. Their mission would be "non-operational training" of both regular and counterterrorism units, which the military has in the past interpreted to mean training on military bases, the official said.

However, all U.S. troops are allowed to defend themselves in Iraq if they are under attack.

The three U.S. officials all spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the plans by name.

Obama made the end of the war in Iraq one of his signature campaign issues, and has touted the U.S. military withdrawal in December 2011 as one of his top foreign policy successes. But he has been caught over the past week between Iraqi officials pleading for help - as well as Republicans blaming him for the loss of a decade's worth of gains in Iraq - and his anti-war Democratic political base, which is demanding that the U.S. stay out of the fight.

The crisis has sparked a rare alignment of interests between the U.S. and Iran, which wants to preserve Iraq's Shiite-dominated government. The U.S. and Iran are engaged in sensitive nuclear negotiations and used a round of talks Monday in Vienna, Austria, to hold a separate bilateral discussion on Iraq.

While the U.S. and Iran have similar short-term goals in Iraq, they have different long-term aims. The United States would like to see an inclusive, representative democracy take hold in Iraq, while predominantly Shiite Iran is more focused on protecting Iraq's Shiite population and bolstering its own position as a regional power against powerful Sunni Arab states in the Gulf.

It's unclear what type of cooperation the U.S. and Iran could undertake. Secretary of State John Kerry said in an interview with Yahoo! News that the U.S. would "not rule out anything that would be constructive," though U.S. officials quickly tamped down speculation that the discussion might include military coordination or consultation.

While the White House continues to review its options, Iran's military leaders are starting to step into the breach.

The commander of Iran's elite Quds Force, Gen. Ghasem Soleimani, was in Iraq on Monday and consulting with the government there on how to stave off insurgents' gains. Iraqi security officials said the U.S. government was notified in advance of the visit by Soleimani, whose forces are a secretive branch of Iran's Revolutionary Guard that in the past has organized Shiite militias to target U.S. troops in Iraq and, more recently, was involved in helping Syria's President Bashar Assad in his fight against Sunni rebels.


Associated Press writers Matthew Lee, Lolita C. Baldor and Ken Dilanian contributed to this report.


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1000|Char. 1000  Char.
Shaggy's AOL June 17 2014 at 4:35 AM

Nothing like telling the enemy how many troops and what their positions are. Idiot.

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45 replies
foubabou June 17 2014 at 4:41 AM

A whole 300 men. Boy Obama's got them pesky insurgents surrounded now.

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29 replies
gumbiee49 June 17 2014 at 5:19 AM

EVERYONE in America saw this coming....................... except Barry Obomba.

Oh well time for the Obama's to go on vacation I guess.

This POS President is the biggest joke America has ever allowed in the White House.

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47 replies
Nonna June 17 2014 at 4:50 AM

So much for no boots on the ground!

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11 replies
jrivas2956 June 17 2014 at 4:44 AM

300......Must be a peach of a hand. Does this fool think he is leonides?

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11 replies
WOODY YOU DOG!!! June 17 2014 at 9:56 AM

Prince of Fools....“The danger to America is not Barack Obama but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with the Presidency. It will be far easier to limit and undo the follies of an Obama presidency than to restore the necessary common sense and good judgment to a depraved electorate willing to have such a man for their president.

The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Mr. Obama, who is a mere symptom of what ails America. Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince. The Republic can survive a Barack Obama, who is, after all, merely a fool. It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools such as those who made him their president.” ....You KNOW who you are....Wear your badge Proudly !!!

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2 replies
Laurence WOODY YOU DOG!!! June 17 2014 at 10:05 AM

Well said! The guilty party is the voters who voted for him.

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mdlnwdwrth WOODY YOU DOG!!! June 17 2014 at 10:11 AM

what the heck did you say.

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daradams June 17 2014 at 10:01 AM

He is 'sending troops' to take our eyes off the southern borders... kind of like an illusionist or a magician.......

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sparticlistic June 17 2014 at 9:51 AM

I guess it is NOW obvious our well educated, charismatic, Rev Wright indoctrinated, Christian con man does not care about our military personnel or their families.
After over 10 years, in 2 wars, knowing that all military personnel/their families were incredibly stressed out, from long/repeated/deadly tours of duty, STILL, Commander in Chief Obama inflicted his sexual/social engineering experiments on the American military. The RESULTS of his experiments have been devastating.
Highest number of suicides (double) in military history (22 per day).
Highest number of yearly divorces in military history .
Highest number of PTSD cases in military history.
Highest number of sexual assaults and rapes against men AND women in the history of the military.
Forced the largest number of officers/commanders out of the military, that did not agree with his ideology, during ANY PREVIOUS Commander in Chiefs term. All that is left is YES military men at the highest levels, that want to keep their jobs until retirement.
Stabbed the military in the back by offering at Congressional Sequester negotiations, that 50% of Sequester cuts would be taken by the military.
Approved the mention of God be taken out of the Air Force Academy oath.
Demanded Pentagon make plans to close as many military commissaries as possible, critical to soldiers and their families.
Commanded Secretary of Defense Hagel to make plans to allow Transgenders into the military.
Bragged during his first Presidential election that the VA was broken and he would fix it (2008).
Responsible for the deaths of 45 plus Veterans deaths from HIS VA administrations incompetence.
What has the Commander in Chief done, ON HIS WATCH, to reverse this ongoing, terrible destruction of our military society? PLAN TO SEND THE MILITARY BACK TO IRAQ TO FIGHT WITH ALL THE GITMO TERRORISTS he has let loose
God help/save our Military personnel and their families from this diabolical President

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1 June 17 2014 at 10:01 AM

Impeachment is the Answer for this idiot......!!!!!!!!

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divern54 June 17 2014 at 10:14 AM

Obama's decisions, or lack of action used to be incredulous.....but now his complete inability to do anything right is just flat scary. We used to be the greatest nation on earth.....now we are a laughing stock and Obama has pulled off the biggest scam in recent history.

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1 reply
daradams divern54 June 17 2014 at 10:14 AM

Well said..

Flag Reply +3 rate up
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