President Barack Obama has authorized the deployment of up to 1,500 additional troops to Iraq in order to help train and advise government and Kurdish forces fighting the armed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group, the White House has said. With the troops that have already been sent to Iraq, that brings the total to over 3,000.
“As a part of our strategy for strengthening partners on the ground, President Obama today authorized the deployment of up to 1,500 additional US military personnel in a non-combat role to train, advise, and assist Iraqi Security Forces, including Kurdish forces,” the statement said on Friday.
The Obama administration will ask Congress for $5.6bn for the operations in Iraq and Syria, which includes $1.6bn for the new “Iraq Train and Equip Fund,” the White House Office of Management and Budget said.
The deployment will roughly double the number of US troops in the country.
Some of the advisors will be deployed to western Anbar province, where the Iraqi army has been forced to retreat from advancing ISIL fighters, a defence official who spoke on condition of anonymity told AFP news agency.
Some of the additional troops will begin to arrive in Iraq in the next several weeks, the official said.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel recommended the move to Obama based on a request from the Iraqi government and the assessment of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, which is overseeing the air war against ISIL, the Pentagon said.
The latest deployment, coming just days after the midterm election, will focus on training 12 Iraqi brigades, nine Iraqi army and three Peshmerga brigades according to the Pentagon. The training sites will be located in northern, western, and southern Iraq and “coalition partners will join US personnel at these locations to help build Iraqi capacity and capability,” it added.
Obama had previously authorized up to 1,600 troops. His decision on Friday will raise number of troops ‘on the ground’ to 3,100. President Obama insists these are not ‘boots on the ground’ but in a war zone, it is impossible to tell the difference.
US-led coalition’s fighter jets have been bombing the group’s targets in Iraq and Syria, supporting the ground war currently carried out by the Iraqi government and Kurdish forces.
In another troubling development…
Egypt’s most violent jihadist group, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, pledged its loyalty Monday to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State organization.
CAIRO, Nov. 10 (UPI) – Egypt’s most violent jihadist group, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, pledged its loyalty Monday to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State organization.
Ansar Beit al-Maqdis is the only Islamist militant faction of any consequence to endorse IS, and thus becomes the first foreign affiliate of IS. The announcement, which referred to Baghdadi as “caliph” and urged other Muslims to offer their support, came in an audio Twitter message.