US President Barack Obama has authorised sending an additional 130 military personnel to northern Iraq to access the scope of the humanitarian mission for the thousands of Yezidi minority trapped on Mt Sinjar by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
The temporary authorization from Obama comes at the recommendation of the Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.
These military personnel, comprising of Marines and special operations forces, are being sent to northern Iraq to assess the scope of the humanitarian mission and develop additional humanitarian assistance options beyond the current airdrop effort in support of displaced Iraqi civilians trapped on Sinjar Mountain by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, according to a defense official.
“These forces will not be engaged in a combat role,” the defense official said on condition on anonymity.
“They will work closely with representatives from the US Department of State and USAID to coordinate plans with international partners and non-government organizations committed to helping the Yazidi people,” the official said.
At the request of the Government of Iraq, the US government continues to explore ways to support Iraqis affected by the ongoing fighting in Sinjar and to prevent potential acts of genocide by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, he said.
Meanwhile, President Obama continued with his outreach with global leaders seeking their support on Iraq.
On Tuesday, he called the Turkish and Canadian prime ministers.
Earlier in the day, Vice President Joe Biden spoke with Osama al-Nujaifi, the Speaker of the previous session of Iraq’s Council of Representatives, to discuss the next steps in Iraqi government formation following the nomination of Haider Al-Abadi as Prime Minister-designate, the White House said.
Biden restated the United States’ readiness to fully support a new and inclusive government in its fight against the ISIL pursuant to the Strategic Framework Agreement, the statement said.
According to the White House, Biden also called Iraqi Council of Representatives Speaker Salim al-Jabouri to discuss the selection of Prime Minister-designate Haider al-Abadi and the ongoing government formation process.
“Vice Speaker Jabouri expressed his intent to move quickly with Dr Abadi to form an inclusive cabinet capable of confronting Iraq’s challenges, particularly the threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL),” the White House said.