US has nearly 1,000 troops in Iraq

There are now almost 1,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, the Pentagon said Wednesday. 

Another 129 troops were sent to Iraq this week. Including 100 or so troops who are assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, a total of about 964 troops are now in the country. 

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Pentagon officials say the soldiers are not “combat troops,” but they are armed and can take self-defense measures.  

The latest troops includes 80 Marines who are assessing how the U.S. might help thousands of Yazidis stranded on Mt. Sinjar in northern Iraq. The Yazidis are members of a religious minority in Iraq who have been chased from their villages by fighters with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), an extremist Sunni Muslim group.

About 200 U.S. troops are in Erbil, the Kurdish regional capital in Iraq. The rest of the U.S. troops are in and around Baghdad. 

Four V-22 Osprey are stationed at a secured airfield in Erbil, Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren said Wednesday. Some U.S. rotary-wing aircraft are also stationed in the city.

President Obama last week authorized air drops of food and supplies to the Yazidis, and airstrikes against ISIS fighters.

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that the White House was considering conducting a rescue mission for the Yazidis that could put U.S. troops more directly at risk. 

Speaking at the Pentagon on Wednesday, Warren would not discuss what options the U.S. is planning.