President Barack Obama announced late Monday that he plans to deploy approximately 275 troops to Iraq who will “provide support and security for U.S. personnel and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.”
“The force is deploying for the purpose of protecting U.S. citizens and property, if necessary, and is equipped for combat,” Obama wrote in a letter to Congress. “This force will remain in Iraq until the security situation becomes such that it is no longer needed.”
About 160 troops are already in Iraq, including 50 Marines and more than 100 Army soldiers. Some of those soldiers have only recently arrived.
Under the authorization Obama outlined, a U.S. official says the U.S. will put an additional 100 soldiers in a nearby third country where they would be held in reserve until needed.
“The personnel will provide assistance to the Department of State in connection with the temporary relocation of some staff from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad to the U.S. Consulates General in Basra and Erbil and to the Iraq Support Unit in Amman,” the White House press secretary added in a statement. “These U.S. military personnel are entering Iraq with the consent of the Government of Iraq.”
The announcement came as the security situation in Iraq quickly deteriorates, with large swaths of the embattled country now controlled by a deadly Islamic extremist group.
On Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry said the Obama administration is willing to talk with Iran over the deteriorating security conditions.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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