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US sends another 300 military personnel to Iraq

July 01, 2014 11:25 IST

The United States has deployed an additional 300 military personnel to violence-hit Iraq to augment the security of American embassy in Baghdad, its support facilities and the Baghdad International Airport.

"In light of the security situation in Baghdad, I have ordered up to approximately 200 additional US Armed Forces personnel to Iraq to reinforce security at the US embassy, its support facilities, and Baghdad International Airport," President Barack Obama informed the Congressional leaders.

He said the force consists of additional security forces, rotary-wing aircraft, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance support is being deployed for the purpose of protecting US citizens and property.

This force will remain in Iraq until the security situation becomes such that it is no longer needed, he said.

"These additional personnel arrived in Iraq Sunday and today from locations within the US Central Command area of responsibility," Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said on Monday.

In addition, the approximately 100 personnel already prepositioned in the Central Command region -- previously announced by the Defense Department in mid-June -- will also move forward to Baghdad to provide security, Kirby said.

He said the capabilities provided include a detachment of helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles, which will bolster airfield and travel route security.      

"Similar to the US security personnel who arrived in Baghdad earlier this month to provide support and security for US personnel and the US Embassy in Baghdad, they will integrate with existing US embassy security teams," he added.

The presence of these additional forces will help enable the embassy to continue its critical diplomatic mission and work with Iraq on challenges they are facing as they confront Islamic State, Kirby said.

These forces are separate and apart from the up to 300 personnel the president authorised to establish two joint operations centers and conduct an assessment of how the US can provide additional support to Iraq's security forces as they confront the grave threat posed by Islamic State, Kirby said.

Meanwhile, the US State Department dismissed declaration of "Islamic Caliphate" by militants in parts of Iraq and Syria which they have seized by stating this means nothing.

"This declaration has no meaning to the people in Iraq and Syria. It only further exposes the true nature of this organisation and its desire to control people by fear and edicts," State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said.

Psaki said the militants strategy of using a repressive ideology and of conducting acts of ruthless terrorism against their people, against people across the region, has been consistent for some time now.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the best way for Iraq to be stable and to confront the destabilising threat that's posed by ISIL is for the political leadership in Iraq to come together and unite the country in the face of that threat.

Image: Islamic State fighters celebrate on vehicles taken from Iraqi security forces at a street in Mosul

Photograph: Reuters


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