WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama has told Congress that he is deploying about 200 more troops to Iraq to bolster security at the US Embassy and airport in Baghdad.
These and previously announced forces are being sent ‘for the purpose of protecting US citizens and property, if necessary, and are equipped for combat,’ Obama said in a letter to Congress required under the US War Powers Resolution released.
Earlier this month, Obama announced the deployment of 275 troops to protect the embassy. In addition to security, these troops will provide ‘intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance support,’ Obama said. The president is also in the process of sending up to 300 military advisers to assist Iraq as it battles an invading army of jihadists that has taken over major cities and threatens the capital in Baghdad. Obama said forces ‘will remain in Iraq until the security situation becomes such that it is no longer needed.’
The US is also sending helicopters and drones that can ‘bolster airfield and travel route security,’ Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.
‘The presence of these additional forces will help enable the embassy to continue its critical diplomatic mission and work with Iraq on challenges they are facing as they confront Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant ISIL,’ Kirby said.
The Pentagon said the additional personnel arrived in Iraq, providing support and security for US personnel and the US Embassy in Baghdad. Obama said then in a statement from the White House that the US will be prepared to take “targeted and precise” military action against insurgents from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) if the situation on the ground requires it.
However, he stressed his moves did not preview a “mission creep” featuring more US ground troops, and he continued to say that the only long-term solution in Iraq is a political one. “American troops will not be fighting in Iraq again,” Obama said, later adding that the “fate of Iraq hangs in the balance.”