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Obama Sending 275 Troops To Protect U.S. Embassy In Iraq

U.S. President Barack Obama
U.S. President Barack Obama
U.S. President Barack Obama has informed Congress that he is deploying up to 275 troops to provide security at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.

The announcement on June 16 comes after Sunni-led militants from an Al-Qaeda splinter group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), seized large swaths of territory across northern Iraq in recent days and advanced toward Baghdad

Obama's announcement is in accordance with the U.S. War Powers Act – a federal law that checks the U.S. president’s authority to send troops into foreign military action without consent from Congress.

The law requires the president to inform Congress within 48 hours of sending troops into military action abroad.

It also forbids troops from remaining deployed longer than 60 days, plus an additional 30 day withdrawal period, without Congressional authorization or a formal declaration of war by Congress.

Meanwhile, U.S. officials have confirmed that they've consulted with Iran about the situation in Iraq.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the purpose of the consultations was to convince Iran to play a role, if possible, in encouraging the Iraqi government to act in a responsible, nonsectarian way.

But the White House said it has ruled out any military cooperation in Iraq between the United States and Iran.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest issued that statement after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said earlier on June 16 that Washington “wouldn't rule out anything” in consultations with Iran “that would be constructive to providing real stability “ in the country.

"Any conversations with the Iranian regime will not include military coordination," Earnest said. "We're not interested in any effort to coordinate military activities with Iran."

The Pentagon also said after Kerry's remarks that it has no intention and no plans to coordinate military activity with Tehran, which supports Iraqi Shi'ite militia groups that have joined Iraqi government forces to fight the Sunni-led ISIL.

Kerry made his remarks in a June 16 interview after ISIL fighters seized a third important city in northwestern Iraq, and also claimed to have massacred 1,700 Iraqi Shi’ite military recruits in the city of Tikrit.

The fall of Tal Afar, about 420 kilometers northwest of Baghdad, comes only days after the ISIL overran Mosul and Tikrit.

Asked about the possibility of U.S. air strikes against the ISIL, Kerry said: "They're not the whole answer, but they may well be one of the options that are important."

Kerry added, "When you have people murdering, assassinating in these mass massacres, you have to stop that. And you do what you need to do if you need to try to stop it from the air or otherwise."

Iran and the United States have long been adversaries.

But both countries are interested in eliminating the threat posed to the region by ISIL and both have considered offering military support to Baghdad.

Iranian President Hassan Rohani has suggested the idea of cooperation with the United States in Iraq if Washington takes military action there.

U.S. President Barack Obama said last week that he would not deploy U.S. ground troops to help Iraqi government forces fight the ISIL.

But a U.S. aircraft carrier and two other warships with guided missiles arrived in the Persian Gulf on June 15.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP
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