Senior US officials are considering an Iraqi request for more American military advisers to help Iraqi security forces in their campaign against Islamic State militants, a senior Obama administration official said on Tuesday.
The request came up in meetings that deputy White House national security adviser Antony Blinken and other US officials had with top Iraqi officials last week on a trip to Baghdad and other parts of the country.
The United States has about 1,400 military advisers and diplomatic security personnel in Iraq. The senior official, who briefed a small group of reporters on condition of anonymity, did not say how many more advisers were requested.
Iraq is not requesting American ground forces and in any event President Barack Obama would not send them there, and any military advisers sent there would be limited to providing advice and assistance to the Iraqis doing the fighting, the official said.
A US-led coalition has launched dozens of air strikes in Iraq and Syria to try to push back advances by Islamic State militants who operate from a safe haven in Syria and have control over large sections of Iraq.
The official said the campaign against Islamic State in Iraq is likely to take months, well into next year, and that it will take that much time to take back key areas such as the city of Mosul or Iraq’s Anbar province.
As for Islamic State advances against Baghdad itself, the US official said the militants have been pushed back and predicted they would not be able to take the Iraqi capital.