President Barack Obama answers questions on violence in Iraq during his meeting with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Thursday in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. Obama said that Iraq will need additional assistance from the U.S. to push back an Islamic insurgency. The president did not specify in a brief question-and-answer session what type of assistance he is willing to provide. But Obama did say the White House has not ruled anything out. He said he is watching the situation in Iraq with concern and wants to ensure that jihadists don't get a foothold. Iraq has been beset by violence since the last American forces withdrew in late 2011. The violence escalated this week with an al-Qaida-inspired group capturing two key Sunni-dominated cities this week and vowing to march on to Baghdad. AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
WASHINGTON - Officials say three planeloads of Americans are being evacuated from a major Iraqi air base in Sunni territory north of Baghdad to escape potential threats from a fast-moving insurgency.
A current U.S. official and a former senior Obama administration official say that means the American training mission at the air field in Balad has been grounded indefinitely.
Twelve U.S. personnel who were stationed at Balad were the first to be evacuated. Several hundred American contractors are still waiting to leave.
They have been training Iraqi forces to use fighter jets and surveillance drones.
Other U.S. contractors at a tank training ground in the city of Taji (TAH'-jee) is still ongoing for now.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they refused to be named in discussing the sensitive situation.