Iraq

The U.S. is adding 350 more troops to help protect the American Embassy in Baghdad and its support facilities in the Iraqi capital.

That raises the number of U.S. forces in Iraq to more than 1,000, officials told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

The additional troops, which were requested by the State Department, will not serve in a combat role.

Updated at 12:25 p.m. ET.

President Obama says that the U.S. will continue to provide Iraq with humanitarian and military assistance, but he ruled out ground troops and reiterated administration calls for Iraq to form a "legitimate" government in order to face the threat from Islamic militants.

(This post was last updated at 8:44 p.m. ET.)

The U.S. military conducted several strikes against Sunni extremist militants near Irbil in Iraq Friday, in what the White House calls a limited engagement.

"Military officials say unmanned aircraft struck a terrorist mortar position," NPR's Tamara Keith reports, "and then when the fighters returned, they were attacked as well. Later, four FA-18 aircraft struck an ISIS convoy and another mortar position using eight laser-guided bombs."

President Obama says the U.S. will send up to 300 military advisers to Iraq to help it cope with the Sunni extremist group ISIS, which has won several key battles in recent days.

Obama said Americans won't be taking up combat roles in the conflict — and he said the U.S. won't take actions "that support one sect inside of Iraq at the expense of another."

The Sunni militant group that has stormed across Iraq invaded the country's largest oil refinery today, hitting it with mortars. The government is using limited air attacks to strike back at ISIS, which now controls large areas of Iraq's north.

"The oil refinery in Beiji has been under siege since the militant fighters of ISIS seized the town of Beiji in their sweep through northern Iraq," NPR's Deborah Amos reports from Irbil, Iraq. "In an offensive at dawn, ISIS fighters attacked the refinery with machine-gun fire and mortars, according to Iraqi security forces."

Simrat Sharma/KUT News

A parade to honor Iraq War Veterans is scheduled to take place this Saturday, July 7.  The event was inspired by a parade in St. Louis, Missouri.

“We figured that if St. Louis could do it, we could do it,” said Conor Kenny, the event’s head organizer. “This plan was hatched over beers one night, and that’s when we decided to do this whole thing.”

The team of Austinites that organized the event is expecting a wide range of people to participate in the parade, reflecting the diversity and “weirdness” of Austin.

Photo by KUT News

Austin will commemorate the end of the Iraq War with a parade down Congress Avenue on July 7.  After the parade, there will be a job and resource fair for veterans inside the Capitol Building.

One veteran with multiple tours in Iraq says that’s important.

“I’m really happy that we’re having this job and resource fair because it can really provide a lot to service members. When you get out, a good support group is probably one of the best things you have, because when you’re in the army, you’re a team, and when you get out, you’re an individual again,” said U.S. Army veteran Marco Orrantia.

The military and the Department of Veterans Affairs say they want more veterans and service members to get appropriate treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

That's why they're tweaking the way they define and treat PTSD. But if this approach works, it could add to the backlog of PTSD cases.

For years, the standard definition for post-traumatic stress disorder had a key feature that didn't fit for the military. It said that the standard victim responds to the trauma he or she has experienced with "helplessness and fear."

Photo courtesy Department of Defense

Army Staff Sergeant Nicholas P. Ballard of El Paso, Texas and Sergeant Glenn M. Sewell of Live Oak, Texas were killed after their unit was hit by an I-E-D attack in eastern Iraq on Monday.

Twenty-six year old Nicholas Bellard leaves behind his 2-year-old daughter, Eva, and wife Victoria. Bellard’s aunt, Susan Ohlenforst of Rayne, Louisiana, says they meant the world to him.