— -- Sending a small contingent of US Special Operations Forces to advise the Iraqis "is a viable, potential course of action," a senior White House official told ABC News today.
The official adds: "The key point is that it's one of many options and these would not be combat troops, but additional advisors."
This would be a significant step, for a president who has repeatedly touted the fact that all US troops have left Iraq except for the Marines there to protect the embassy. The White House may say that special operations "advisors" is different than sending "combat troops" -- but they would be advising Iraqi forces in Iraq -- something more than just training -- and it is hard to make the case they would not be in harm's way.
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Separately, President Obama sent a War Powers Resolution letter to Congress today noting that he had ordered the deployment of 275 U.S. Armed Forces personnel to provide security for U.S. personnel and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
"This force is deploying for the purpose of protecting U.S. citizens and property, if necessary, and is equipped for combat. This force will remain in Iraq until the security situation becomes such that it is no longer needed," Obama said in the letter.
Another official, National Security Spokesperson Caitlin Hayden said: "The president was very clear that we will not be sending U.S. troops back into combat in Iraq. That remains the case and he has asked his national security team to prepare a range of other options that could help support Iraqi security forces."
That is the same qualifier President Obama himself used on Friday – "we will not be sending US troops back into combat in Iraq" -- providing an opening to sending troops back to Iraq as long as they are not called "combat" troops. He is no longer simply saying he will not send US troops back to Iraq.
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Under the plan being considered, those "advisors" could be involved in field operations with Iraqi forces, ABC News' Luis Martinez reported.