US President Barack Obama has authorised sending another 350 military personnel to Iraq, the White House said adding that this is to secure American diplomatic facilities and personnel in Baghdad from the terrorists of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
“These additional forces will not serve in a combat role,” the White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.
“The President has made clear his commitment to doing whatever is required to provide the necessary security for US personnel and facilities around the world,” he said.
The new arrangement will allow some previously deployed military personnel to depart Iraq, he said, while at the same time providing a more robust, sustainable security force for our personnel and facilities in Baghdad.
Obama’s action will result in a net increase of approximately 350 additional military personnel on the ground in Baghdad providing security at the Embassy Compound and its support facilities, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said.
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“This builds upon previous embassy security deployments announced on June 15 and June 30 and will bring the total forces responsible for augmenting diplomatic security in Iraq up to approximately 820,” Kirby said.
In all, 405 US military personnel will be sent to Baghdad to provide a more robust and sustainable security presence to help the Department of State continue their critical mission, he added.
“With this order, 55 personnel who have been in Baghdad since June will redeploy outside of Iraq.
Those 55 personnel will remain postured to deal with other security contingencies in the region, if necessary,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon continued with its air-strikes against ISIL targets in Iraq.
So far, the Pentagon has conducted a total of 124 air-strikes across Iraq.
Earlier in the day, Earnest told reporters that the President has laid out pretty clearly what the goal of his policy is in Iraq right now when it comes to confronting ISIL.
“The first priority is the protection of American citizens. There are American citizens in Baghdad and Erbil, and that is why the President has placed a priority on assisting Iraqi and Kurdish security forces as they protect those two cities,” he said.
“The President has also authorized the use of American military force to prevent humanitarian disasters in Iraq.
That was something the President ordered earlier in August to try to protect the Yezidi people, a religious minority that had taken shelter at Mount Sinjar.
They were under threat of persecution from ISIL,” he added.
The United States, said the State Department Spokesperson, Jen Psaki, has done more than any country in the world, whether it’s humanitarian assistance or other military efforts to take on this threat in Iraq.