Shiite militiamen hold a flag of the Islamic State group they captured during an operation on Sept. 1 outside Amirli, Iraq. (AP)
Crisis in Iraq
President Obama has approved sending roughly 350 more U.S. troops to Iraq, the White House announced on Tuesday.
The new troops will protect U.S. diplomatic facilities and personnel in Baghdad, allowing some U.S. troops already in Iraq to leave, according to a statement from the White House press secretary.
“These additional forces will not serve in a combat role,” the statement says.
Troop numbers in Iraq fluctuate, so although 763 U.S. troops are on the ground now, that number will change by the time the additional 350 troops arrive, according to the Defense Department.
Ultimately, about 820 U.S. troops will augment diplomatic security in Iraq, of which 405 will be in Baghdad, Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said in a statement on Tuesday. The additional 350 troops that Obama has authorized will come from within the U.S. Central Command theater of responsibility and include a headquarters element, medical personnel, associated helicopters and an air liaison team.
The deployment will allow 55 U.S. troops who have been in Baghdad since June to leave Iraq, Kirby said in the statement.
In addition to the troops on the ground, sailors and Marines aboard the Bataan amphibious ready group are spending an extra three weeks in the 5th Fleet region while President Obama considers how to combat the Islamic State.
“The Department of Defense will continue to plan and prepare further military options should they become necessary, and we will remain ready to protect our diplomats, our citizens, and our interests in Iraq, while we continue to work with the Iraqi government to counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant,” Kirby said.