Washington, Jun 20 (PTI): The major focus of the initial tranche of US military advisers to be sent to Iraq would be in and around Baghdad, a senior official has said.
He, however, did not rule out that they were being sent to other parts of the strife-torn country as well.
“The major focus of this initial tranche will be in and around Baghdad, but can’t rule out that they would be sent to higher headquarters at several other places,” the Obama Administration official said.
Several teams of a dozen each would be sent to Iraq to assist the Iraqi forces against expanding influence of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (which is also translated as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria or Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham), the official said.
“We are going to start with several teams of a dozen each, .. the initial estimate would be in the several dozen in the initial tranche here that are going in to assess the situation.
“Most of these teams will come from units that are already in the Central Command area of responsibility. They’re already in the region,” the official said, without announcing an exact date when they’ll get there.
President Barack Obama at the White House said, “we are prepared to send a small number of additional American military advisers – up to 300 – to assess how we can best train, advise and support Iraqi security forces going forward.”
“American forces will not be returning to combat in Iraq, but will help Iraqis as they take the fight to terrorists who threaten the Iraqi people, the region and American interests as well,” he said.
The President, said another administration official, is focused on a number of potential contingencies that may demand US direct military action.
“One of those is the threat from ISIL and the threat that that could pose not only to Iraq’s stability but to US personnel and to US interests more broadly, certainly including our homeland,” he said.
According to another senior official, the US currently has some military advisory personnel in Iraq based out of its embassy in Baghdad.
“They have the protections that are necessary for them to be there, and we are confident that these additional forces would have the necessary protections and authorities to be there, particularly as Iraq has requested them,” the official said.