President Barack Obama said Monday he is sending up to 200 additional U.S. armed forces personnel to Iraq, amid the escalating crisis in the region.
Obama announced the deployment of additional forces in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), the president pro tempore of the Senate. Obama said the additional forces will reinforce security at the U.S. Embassy, its support facilities, and the Baghdad International Airport.
Obama said the forces will be equipped for combat if necessary.
The new surge comes a little more than a week after Obama said he was ordering 300 “military advisers” to assist Iraqi security forces in stemming off Sunni militants, creeping the U.S. further back into a conflict zone Obama had exited just three years ago. The new personnel is separate from the 300 advisers already announced, the Pentagon said.
The Pentagon said the additional personnel arrived in Iraq on Sunday, providing support and security for U.S. personnel and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
Obama said then in a statement from the White House that the U.S. will be prepared to take “targeted and precise” military action against insurgents from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) if the situation on the ground requires it. However, he stressed his moves did not preview a “mission creep” featuring more U.S. ground troops, and he continued to say that the only long-term solution in Iraq is a political one.
“American troops will not be fighting in Iraq again,” Obama said, later adding that the “fate of Iraq hangs in the balance.”
Here’s Obama’s full letter sent Monday:
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