President Obama has authorized the deployment of an additional 350 troops to Iraq, ostensibly in response to a State Department request last week for more protection for US personnel and facilities in Baghdad.
The White House emphasized, “These additional forces will not serve in a combat role,” with the Pentagon saying that the deployment “will include a headquarters element, medical personnel, associated helicopters, and an air liaison team.”
With the order, more than 1,100 US military personnel have been sent to Iraq since the insurgent offensive of early June, taking cities such as Mosul and Tikrit and advancing on Baghdad. Officially, a total of 820 are now responsible for protecting the US Embassy and the airport in Baghdad and the US Consulate in Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan.
However, US troops and special forces have been involved in support of a Kurdish and Iraqi counter-offensive against the jihadist Islamic State in northern Iraq. American airstrikes have supported the operations, including the re-capture of the Mosul Dam and the breaking of the siege of Amerli.
Iran has also sent in military advisors to back the ground offensive, despite ruling out cooperation with the Americans.
Claimed Photo: Head of Iran’s Qods Force In Amerli After Breaking of Islamic State Siege
A claimed photograph of Qassem Soleimani, the head of the elite Qods Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guardian Corps, in Amerli in northern Iraq after Kurdish and Iraqi forces broke a two-month siege by the Islamic State….
Kurdish sources reported earlier this week that Iranian military advisors were involved in the ground offensive to move into Amerli, where 15,000 residents have been short of food, water, and medical supplies.
Soleimani has reportedly made periodic visits to Iraq to advise political and military leaders after the insurgent offensive advanced through northern and eastern Iraq and towards Baghdad in June.