Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.
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(CNN) – Armed American drones, both manned and unmanned, started flying over Baghdad in the previous 24 hours to provide additional protection for 180 U.S. military advisers in the area, U.S. officials confirmed to CNN. Until now, U.S. officials had said all drone reconnaissance flights over Iraq were unarmed.
The drones will not go after ISIS targets, but the Pentagon says it is prepared to take military action against the militant group, known as both the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
"We have more than 30,000 troops in the Middle East as a matter of course. We're very prepared should the President decide that he wants to take action through air strikes or other kinetic action against ISIL," Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby told CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper."
"Clearly they're a regional threat, and clearly they're a threat to our own national security," said Kirby. "But the goal right now ... is to provide some assessments, get us more information about what's going on there."
For more of our interview with Rear Adm. John Kirby, watch the video above.