The United States has announced the arrival of about 100 troops in Iraq, en route to protect the U.S. embassy in the capital, Baghdad. The arrival follows President Obama’s announcement that America will deploy up to 275 troops to Iraq in response to the growing threat by Islamist jihadist group ISIS.
The Military Times reports that about 100 troops have been deployed, and of those about half belong to a Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team (FAST) under the Marines. These groups, the report explains, “are the traditional go-to assets when U.S. embassies require reinforcement in times of crises.” The initial deployment is part of a greater effort announced by President Obama on Monday.
The extended 275-person deployment, President Obama asserted, will enter Iraq exclusively “for the purpose of protecting US citizens and property, if necessary, and is equipped for combat.” There is no immediate plan for when the troops will return home, with the President announcing that they will stay in Iraq until they are no longer needed. However, the Pentagon has gone through great effort to describe the force as “temporary” and not permanent, unlike the United States’ efforts in Iraq in the early 2000s.
The troops in the group will join other American military assets making their way towards the region as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) make advances in northern Iraq, threatening to siege the capital, Baghdad. According to Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby, the military has moved several warships, including the George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier, into the region. These, he said, will provide “the commander in chief additional options to protect American citizens and interests in Iraq, should he choose to use them.”
ISIS, which has a strong base in Syria as well as Iraq, has had allies seize yet another town on Tuesday– the Iraq-Syria border town of Al-Qaim. The group involved with that strike are affiliated with the Free Syrian Army and the Al-Nusra Front which, unlike ISIS, is still affiliated with Al Qaeda.
American troops will join 2,000 Iranian soldiers that have already been dispatched to the area by President Hassan Rouhani who, reports note, has offered extensive help to the Shi’ite government of Iraq in dispelling the Sunni jihadist attack. In addition to Iran, reports have surfaced that Syrian Air Force troops under President Bashar al-Assad have crossed the border into Iraq and struck key ISIS centers near the border.