Volume. 12228

Obama dispatches 350 more U.S. troops to Iraq
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U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday ordered about 350 more U.S. troops to Baghdad to safeguard U.S. diplomats in the Iraqi capital, increasing the American military presence to more than 1,000 forces.

The move comes after a request last month from the State Department for additional U.S. troops to bolster security for the U.S. embassy and other facilities in Iraq, where militants from the ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) have seized territory in the north and west of the country.

U.S. aircraft have been bombing ISIL fighters in Iraq since August 8, particularly around the Mosul dam in the north, and Washington already has deployed hundreds of troops to shore up security for its diplomats in Baghdad.

“The president authorized the Department of Defense to fulfill a Department of State request for approximately 350 additional U.S. military personnel to protect our diplomatic facilities and personnel in Baghdad, Iraq,” the White House said in a statement.

The United States will “continue to support the government of Iraq's efforts to counter ISIL, which poses a threat not only to Iraq, but to the broader Middle East and US personnel and interests in the region,” it said.

Obama, on his way to Estonia and a NATO summit in Wales, said Washington “will be consulting this week with NATO allies regarding additional actions to take against ISIL and to develop a broad-based international coalition to implement a comprehensive strategy to protect our people and to support our partners in the fight against ISIL.”
The latest troop deployment brings the number of forces devoted to security for U.S. diplomats in Iraq to 820, the Pentagon said. An additional 300 troops are serving as “advisors” to Iraqi security forces, for a total footprint of more than 1,000 troops.

Under the Osama’s decision, about 400 troops will head to Baghdad and about 55 forces that have been on the ground will rotate out of the country, officials said.

The additional U.S. forces will come from bases in the Middle East and will include a headquarters element, medical personnel, an air liaison team and a number of helicopters, according to Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby.

(Source: Reuters)

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