Marines Arrive in Baghdad Militants fight for new towns, claim mass executions By Neal Colgrass, Newser Staff Posted Jun 15, 2014 2:04 PM CDT Updated Jun 15, 2014 5:00 PM CDT 359 comments Comments Shiite tribal fighters raise their weapons and chant slogans in Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, 340 miles southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, June 15, 2014. (AP Photo/ Nabil Al-Jurani) (Newser) – As fighting rages today across Iraq, Washington is beginning to take action. About 50 to 100 Marines and Army personnel are now at the US embassy in Baghdad, and some embassy staff have been moved to other consular offices in Iraq and Jordan, CNN reports. Meanwhile, US Navy ships including the aircraft carrier USS George HW Bush have arrived in the Persian Gulf, NBC News reports. And the Wall Street Journal reports that the US is planning to begin direct talks with Iran this week about ways of curbing Sunni militants in Iraq. In other news: The militants who seized much of western and northern Iraq say they've recently executed 1,700 people, the New York Times reports. No official confirmation yet, but the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria posted gruesome images of massacre sites on Twitter. Most victims are reportedly Shiite Iraqi soldiers, but Sunnis affiliated with the government were among the dead. The Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani revised the call to arms he issued Friday, apparently concerned about a possible wave of Sunni/Shiite reprisal killings. He urged Iraqis "to exert the highest level of self-restraint during this tumultuous period." Militants clashed with security forces near al-Khalis, northeast of Baghdad, and took over the town of Tal Afar, near the Syrian border. Sunni residents in Tal Afar say Shiite forces bombed their neighborhoods with mortar fire, Reuters reports. Two bomb attacks today killed up to 21 people in central Baghdad, one in a market full of volunteers assembled to join the fight against militants, the New York Times reports. See where ISIS militants came from, or how they became "insanely wealthy."