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Marines sent to protect Embassy as tensions rise in Baghdad


 About 100 Marines are headed to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad today and some embassy staffers being sent out of town as tensions rise due to the advance of a radical Islamic insurgency.

The U.S. took additional precautions as ISIS - the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria - expanded its territory in Iraq by capturing the city of Tal Afar, which is west of Mosul.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered the USS George H.W. Bush from the northern Arabian Sea and it has arrived in the Persian Gulf as President Obama considers possible military options for Iraq. Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said deploying the USS Bush will give Obama additional flexibility if military action were required to protect American citizens and interests in Iraq.

The Obama administration is also considering talks with its long time nemesis Iran to help with politician reconciliations in Iraq.

The threat of a massive ISIS attack on Baghdad has prompted the U.S. Embassy to evacuate a significant number of employees and bring in the specially-trained Marines, as well as 50 additional security personnel, State Department officials said.

U.S. travelers in the country were encouraged to exercise caution and limit travel to certain parts of Iraq.

"Due to the relocation of personnel from Baghdad, the embassy will only be restricted in its ability to offer all consular services; but emergency services are always available to U.S. citizens in need at any embassy or consulate anywhere in the world," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

Iraq has yet to mount a concerted effort to confront ISIS, a group so radical that al Qaeda disowned it, and roll back the effect of its lightning strikes last week through much of northern Iraq. It is now poised to strike at Baghdad.

Thousands of young Iraqi men have volunteered to fight the militants, including some barely in their teens. A marching band was there for Mondays sendoff as the young men were loaded into open trucks.

The new recruits will face a battle-hardened army that doesn't flinch at atrocities. The jihadist group released graphic images this weekend showing mass executions of Iraqi soldiers. The group is threatening to impose strict Islamic law, killing whoever opposes it.

Iraqi forces have been struck back with helicopters launching rockets at targets near the main road leading to Baghdad. The city was rocked by a string of explosions, with as many as 15 dead, Iraqi police and hospital officials said.

Top Republicans, such as South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, say action is needed.

If Baghdad falls, if the central government falls, a disaster awaits us of monumental proportions, Graham said Sunday on State of the Union.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.