Obama orders more than 100 advisers to Iraq
By Kristina Wong - 08/12/14 06:45 PM EDT
President Obama has ordered 130 more troops to northern Iraq, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Tuesday.
"The president has authorized for me to go ahead and authorize about 130 new assessment team members," said Hagel.
He said the advisers arrived in Erbil Tuesday morning to look at humanitarian relief options for tens of thousands of people from the Yazidi religious sect. The refugees have been trapped on mountains amid fighting between Kurdish forces and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
The additional troops are comprised of Marines and special operations forces from the U.S. Central Command region, according to a defense official.
"These forces will not be engaged in a combat role," the official said.
The forces will work closely with the State Department and USAID to coordinate efforts with international partners and non-government organizations to help the Yazidis, the official added.
The official said the U.S. would continue looking for ways to help Iraqis disrupted by the fighting and prevent a possible genocide by ISIS.
The president on Friday ordered airstrikes and humanitarian airdrops of food and water to help the Yazidis.
The U.S. currently has several dozen troops in northern Iraq manning a joint operations center in Erbil to coordinate and share intelligence with Iraqi forces.
The new advisers bring the total number of U.S. troops in the country to about 1,000.
About 100 troops are part of the U.S. embassy presence in Baghdad, and another 375 or so are providing security to the embassy and other U.S. facilities.
There are currently about 250 U.S. troops in Baghdad and Erbil who are assessing the security situation, mostly in Baghdad.
This story was updated at 7:05 p.m.