Even though armed U.S. drones have been flying over Baghdad, a defense official emphasizes that President Barack Obama still hasn't authorized airstrikes against Sunni militants.

The official says a handful of Predator drones armed with Hellfire missiles are being used to protect U.S. civilians and military forces in the Iraqi capital.

Earlier, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby confirms that some armed U.S. military jets are performing reconnaissance missions over Iraq. Admiral Kirby called it "additional force protection" as up to 300 U.S. military advisers set up shop in Baghdad.

President Obama ordered the deployment while insisting that U.S. combat troops will not be sent back into Iraq. Obama has not ruled out airstrikes to help Iraq's government curb the growing militant insurgency there. The possibility of airstrikes includes U.S. drone missions.

(Information from Metro Networks Inc. used in this story)