On Monday, Obama notified Congress that up to 275 troops could be sent to Iraq to provide support and security for U.S. personnel and the American Embassy in Baghdad. About 170 of those forces have already arrived and another 100 soldiers be on standby in a nearby country until they are needed, a U.S. official said.
The U.S. is immediately deploying several hundred armed troops in and around Iraq and considering sending an additional contingent of special forces soldiers as Baghdad struggles to repel a rampant insurgency, even as the White House insists anew that America will not be dragged into another war.
The White House said the forces authorized for support and security will assist with the temporary relocation of some staff from the Baghdad embassy with their safety being a priority. The forces are entering Iraq with the consent of the country’s government, the White House said.
Kerry stressed that any contacts with Iran would move “step-by-step.”
‘The troops would fall under the authority of the U.S. ambassador in Baghdad and would not be authorized to engage in combat,’ another U.S. official said. Their mission would be “non-operational training” of both regular and counter terrorism units, which the military has in the past interpreted to mean training on military bases, the official said.
However, all U.S. troops are allowed to defend themselves in Iraq if they are under attack. Already, about 100 Marines and Army soldiers have been sent to Baghdad to help with embassy security, according to a U.S. official.
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