The Pentagon is sending another ship to the Arabian Gulf to give President Barack Obama “additional options to protect American citizens and interests in Iraq,” an official said Monday.

The amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde — which carries Osprey combat helicopters — will join other U.S. naval ships already in the gulf, including the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush.

According to one senior defense official, “If the President orders airstrikes, we have plenty of firepower in the Gulf.”

The move comes as the turmoil in Iraq deepens. The Shiite-led government has lost a huge swath of northern land to Sunni militants, who captured the key city of Tal Afar before dawn on Monday.

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