Obama announces 275 troops to deploy to Iraq for embassy security in Baghdad

AFP Photo/Vyacheslav Oseledko

US President Barack Obama has announced 275 US troops will be deployed to Iraq to provide security for the US Embassy in Baghdad as Sunni insurgents continue to test the nation’s security forces in its push closer to the capital.

“This force is deploying for the purpose of protecting U.S.
citizens and property, if necessary, and is equipped for
Obama said
in a
letter sent to House and Senate
leaders.“This force will remain in Iraq
until the security situation becomes such that it is no longer

The White House press
secretary said the deployment of the US Armed Forces personnel is
“consistent with the War Powers Resolution.”

“The personnel will provide assistance to the Department of
State in connection with the temporary relocation of some staff
from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad to the U.S. Consulates General
in Basra and Erbil and to the Iraq Support Unit in Amman,”

the press secretary said in a statement. “These U.S. military personnel
are entering Iraq with the consent of the Government of Iraq. The
U.S. Embassy in Baghdad remains open, and a substantial majority
of the U.S. Embassy presence in Iraq will remain in place and the
embassy will be fully equipped to carry out its national security

The White House had reportedly dropped any idea of sending US
combat troops to Iraq.

“The president was very clear that we will not be sending
U.S. troops back into combat in Iraq,”
White House
spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement. “That remains the
case and he has asked his national security team to prepare a
range of other options that could help support Iraqi security

The White House did not comment on whether the announcement of
embassy security represents a possible break from the Obama
administration’s policy against future combat troops in Iraq.

Meanwhile, the Obama
administration is said to be considering offering a small
contingent of American special forces soldiers to Iraq, US
officials said Monday.

The plan would
incorporate as many as 100 soldiers in a non-combat, training
role to assist Iraqi forces against fighters of the Islamic State
of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS or ISIL) that have gained ground in
nation’s north and west, three US officials told AP on the
condition of anonymity.

The special forces plan is reportedly high on the list of options
the US is considering in offering the Shiite-led government in
Iraq help against the Sunni insurgents as ISIS pushes toward the
nation’s capital.

Earlier Monday, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that – in
addition to security assistance like Hellfire missiles and
surveillance drones already supplied to Iraq – the US is
considering using manned or unmanned drone airstrikes to counter
insurgent momentum.

It is yet clear whether
the special forces soldiers on the advising and
“non-operational training” mission would be sent to
Baghdad or elsewhere closer to cities and areas where ISIS and
other militant groups have established control in a nation
reeling from continual violence and division.

The troops would be under the authority of the US ambassador, a
US official said, and that they would be there to train Iraqi
security forces on military bases.

It was also reported Monday that the USS Mesa Verde, with 550
Marines onboard, has entered the Persian Gulf on Monday for a
possible operation in Iraq.

Iraq has requested the hastened delivery of major weapons
orders, including dozens of F-16 fighter jets contracted with
Lockheed Martin and dozens of Boeing’s Apache helicopters, to
counter the insurgent fighters.

What we are saying is that there needs to be a sense of
” Lukman Faily, Iraq’s ambassador to the US, told
The Wall Street Journal last week. “We now expect the US to
appreciate this sense of urgency.”

An offshoot of Al-Qaeda, ISIS, the hyper-fundamentalist group
active in Iraq and Syria, fell out with the global terrorist
network. It gained notoriety for its ruthless tactics, which
include publicly crucifying and beheading those who violate their
strict religious interpretations. Its rise and consolidation owe
a great deal to the simultaneous power vacuum that arose after
the Syrian civil war broke out and the ongoing tumult in Iraq
after the US invasion and occupation.

Fighting against the Shia governments of Prime Minister Nouri
al-Maliki in Baghdad and Bashar Assad in Damascus has also
allowed the Sunni organization to recruit thousands of people
under its aim of eventually turning the entire region into an
ultraconservative Muslim caliphate.

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