U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says about 130 more U.S. military advisers have been deployed to northern Iraq, to assess ways in which Washington can help Baghdad deal with resurgent Islamist extremists.
Hagel, speaking Tuesday at a U.S. military base in California, stressed that the role of the inter-service is limited to advising Iraqi security forces.
He said the deployment to the northern city of Irbil "is not a combat boots-on-the-ground operation," adding that the team will perform an in-depth Iraqi security assessment in the north.
The Pentagon announced a similar deployment of up to 300 military advisers to Baghdad in June.
In Brussels, meanwhile, the 28-member European Union failed to agree on a deal to supply weapons to Iraqi Kurds battling militants from the Islamic State grouping.
But the EU said individual member countries can strike arms deals with Baghdad, as part of a push to blunt the militants' push in Iraq's north and west.
Earlier this week, Iraqi Kurdish President Massoud Barzani asked the international community for help in fighting the militants, whose far-reaching and brutal offensive against Kurds and other minorities has sent shock waves through world capitals.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday joined a chorus of world leaders in calling for international protection for minorities fleeing the militant onslaught. Ban said he is dismayed by the group's "barbaric acts" as it has seized towns and cities across eastern Syria and northwest Iraq.
With the help of Kurdish forces in the region, more than 20,000 of the refugees have managed to escape Sinjar in the past few days, but analysts say thousands more remain trapped without food or water.
In Baghdad, international backing grew Tuesday for Iraqi Prime Minister-designate Haider al-Abadi, picked Monday to form a new government in Baghdad.
Kurdish President Barzani told U.S. Vice President Joe Biden in a phone call that he is ready to work with Abadi to confront the nation's security threat.
The United States, NATO, Saudi Arabia and Iran have voiced support for Abadi, countering incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's push to extend his eight-year rule with a third term.
Maliki has rapidly lost the support of the international community, and is widely accused of failing to unite Iraq's various factions during his eight-year tenure.