U.S. sending military personnel to Iraq

BY William M. Welch | FROM USA TODAY | 2014-09-03 10:54

  9:25 p.m. EDT September 2, 2014P

  President Obama on Tuesday authorized sending some 350 additional U.S. military personnel to protect diplomatic facilities and personnel in Baghdad.

  The troops will not play a combat role, the White House said.

  The move is the latest in a series of deployments aimed at protecting the U.S. Embassy and other facilities in Iraq.

  It comes as Obama has been under political pressure to respond to the Islamic State, also known as ISIL, including the apparent execution of a second American journalist depicted in a video released Tuesday.

  "The President will be consulting this week with NATO allies regarding additional actions to take against ISIL and to develop a broad-based international coalition to implement a comprehensive strategy to protect our people and to support our partners in the fight against ISIL,'' the White House said in a statement.

  It said Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and counterterrorism advisor Lisa Monaco will travel to the region separately "in the near-term.''

  The White House said Obama took the step to increase troop presence in Iraq at the recommendation of the Pentagon.

  Iraqi soldiers cheer a humanitarian aid convoy after the troops smashed a siege by Islamic State militants on Sept. 1 in Amerli. The Jihadist militants had trapped thousands of people in the town for more than two months. (Photo: J.M. Lopez, AFP/Getty Images)FullscreenNext Slide

  The White House said Obama approved the move "to protect our personnel and facilities in Iraq as we continue to support the government of Iraq'' in its fight against the Islamic State terrorist organization.

  "These additional forces will not serve in a combat role,'' the statement said.

  The move will allow some previously deployed military personnel to leave Iraq "while at the same time providing a more robust, sustainable security force'' for U.S. interests in the Iraq capital, the White House statement said.

  Defense Department spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said the move builds on deployments announced in June and will bring to 820 the total number of U.S. forces working on diplomatic security in Iraq.

  Kirby said the forces will come from the U.S. Central Command and will include medical personnel, helicopters and an air liaison team.

  While the White House said "approximately 350'' military personnel were involved, Kirby said a total of 405 U.S. military personnel will be sent to Baghdad, and that 55 people who have been there since June will leave the country but will be available "to deal with other security contingencies in the region, if necessary.''

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