US sends 130 more military advisers to Iraq
Despite the presence of thousands of American troops in Iraq, US President Barack Obama has approved the deployment of 130 more “military advisers” to northern Iraq.
"The president has authorized for me to go ahead and authorize about 130 new assessment team members," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Tuesday, adding that the troops arrived in Erbil on Tuesday morning.
According to a defense official, the troops are comprised of Marines and special operations forces from the US Central Command region.
"These forces will not be engaged in a combat role," the official said.
The United States currently has 8,630 forces inside Iraq. Thousands of US military personnel, oil contractors, security forces, and diplomats are already in Iraq’s Kurdistan region and Baghdad.
The United States recently sent 300 military advisers to Iraq, including a contingent now stationed in Erbil.
Washington has a military base in Erbil, relocating American troops from an airport inside the base.
On Thursday, Obama authorized the use of force against ISIL militants, and promised on Saturday to continue the operations as long as “necessary” to prevent the advance of ISIL in northern Iraq where American diplomats are stationed.
Obama said that airstrikes could go on for months to protect both US personnel and the Izadi Kurds who are trapped by the militants on the mountain in northern Iraq.
As many as 40,000 Iraqis belonging to the Kurdish minority Izadi are at risk of dying from dehydration and starvation atop Mount Sinjar as militants have vowed to kill them if they descended.
The US said on Monday that it has no plans to expand airstrikes in northern Iraq beyond protecting its facilities and citizens from ISIL terrorists.
"There are no plans to expand the current air campaign beyond the current self defense activities," senior Pentagon official Lieutenant General William Mayville told reporters.
Mayville acknowledged the rising threat of ISIL militants in Iraq and elsewhere in the region. But he said that the principal task of US forces has been to protect US facilities and support humanitarian assistance in militant-held northern region.
"Our principal task to date, and what we are doing right now, is to protect US facilities and the citizens -- American citizens -- at those facilities," he said.