As Militants Advance, U.S. Considers Options In Iraq

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The USS Mesa Verde takes part in the 'Panamax 2009' joint wargame in the Atlantic Ocean on September 15, 2009, as part of the multinational Panamax 2009 Panama Canal defence simulation exercises. (Monica Rueda/AFP/Getty Images)

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered the amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde into the Persian Gulf as concern grows over a militant group’s advancement toward Iraq’s capital. It’s joining the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush and other U.S. naval ships.

A Pentagon spokesman says the ships’ presence will give President Barack Obama “additional options to protect American citizens and interests in Iraq.” The State Department is reinforcing security at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and evacuating some personnel.

Secretary of State John Kerry says the Obama administration is willing to talk with Iran over deteriorating security conditions in Iraq and is not ruling out potential U.S.-Iranian military cooperation in stemming the advance of Sunni extremists. Kerry also says U.S. drone strikes “may well” be an option.

The militant Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, has taken over several cities in northern Iraq.

NPR Pentagon reporter Tom Bowman joins Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson with the latest.


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