World Bulletin / News Desk
The amphibious transport ship USS Mesa Verde with 550 Marines on board entered the Gulf on Monday to support possible U.S. action to help Iraq's government combat a rebellion led by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) that has overtaken large areas of the country's north, a U.S. defense official said.
President Barack Obama has said he is considering military action, short of putting U.S. troops in Iraq, to aid Baghdad's efforts to stop the rebellion.
The USS Mesa Verde joins the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush, which moved into the Gulf on Saturday along with the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea and the guided-missile destroyer USS Truxtun.
"USS Mesa Verde is capable of conducting a variety of quick reaction and crisis response operations. The ship carries a complement of MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft," the Pentagon said in a statement.
CNN first reported the USS Mesa Verde's movement into the Gulf.
AIR STRIKES AN 'OPTION'
The United States is considering U.S. air strikes to help the Iraqi government fend off the rebellion as well as possible discussions with neighboring Iran, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday.
Asked about the possibility of such strikes, Kerry said in an interview with Yahoo! News: "They're not the whole answer, but they may well be one of the options that are important."
"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," he added.
"We're open to discussions if there is something constructive that can be contributed by Iran, if Iran is prepared to do something that is going to respect the integrity and soveregnty of Iraq," Kerry told Yahoo! News.
Earlier on Monday, a senior U.S. official said there could be talks between officials from the United States and Iran, which is also majority Shi'ite, on the sidelines of other talks in Vienna this week.
Kerry's comments come as the United States weighs its possible response to the conflict as militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, continues its fierce onslaught across Iraq.
In the interview, Kerry called Iraq a strategic partner in the Middle East and said the United States was "deeply committed to the integrity of Iraq as a country."
"It is vital, ultimately, to the stability of the region as a whole," he said.
CALL FOR MALIKI TO BE 'INCLUSIVE'
Kerry also called on the government of Nuri al-Maliki, Iraq's Shi'ite prime minister, to be more inclusive to various sectarian groups but stopped short of calling for his resignation, saying that was up to the people of Iraq.
"I don't think the United States should be issuing instructions or orders. I don't think any country should," he said.
"We are adamant that Prime Minister Maliki and his government must do a better job of reaching out to all the representative entities in Iraq and bring them to the table. That has not happened sufficiently," Kerry said.
The United States has also increased security at its embassy in Baghdad and evacuated some personnel, and Kerry on Monday said he did not think that ISIL would be able to take over the key city of Baghdad, at least in the near term.
"But that remains to be determined by the decisions that are mnade in the course of next few days," by the United States, Maliki's government, and others, he added.
"I'm absolutely convinced we have the security we need for our embassy," Kerry said.Last Mod: 16 Haziran 2014, 16:48