President Barack Obama is sending 275 U.S. troops to Iraq to “provide support and security for U.S. personnel and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad” in the wake of territorial gains made by the jihadist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS).
Obama announced the decision in a letter Monday sent to Speaker of the House John Boehner and President Pro Tempore of the Senate Patrick Leahy in which he notified them of the deployment as required by the War Powers Resolution.
“Starting on June 15, 2014, up to approximately 275 U.S. Armed Forces personnel are deploying to Iraq to provide support and security for U.S. personnel and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad,” wrote Obama. “This force is deploying for the purpose of protecting U.S. citizens and property, if necessary, and is equipped for combat. This force will remain in Iraq until the security situation becomes such that it is no longer needed.”
In a statement from the White House Friday, Obama said he was considering a variety of options to deal with the escalating situation in Iraq, but stressed he would “not be sending troops back into combat.” Last week, hundreds of personnel were evacuated from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad as the ISIS militants came closer to the city.
Shortly after Obama’s letter to Congress was released, the White House press secretary issued a statement emphasising the troops would be in a “support and security” role.
“Today, consistent with the War Powers Resolution, the President transmitted a report notifying the Congress that up to approximately 275 U.S. military personnel are deploying to Iraq to provide support and security for U.S. personnel and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. 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 press secretary said. “These U.S. military personnel are entering Iraq with the consent of the Government of Iraq. The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad remains open, and a substantial majority of the U.S. Embassy presence in Iraq will remain in place and the embassy will be fully equipped to carry out its national security mission.”
The White House did not immediately respond to a request from Business Insider about whether this represents a change in the president’s position on Iraq and whether more U.S. troops may be sent into the country.
View Obama’s letter below:
Updated at 7:12 p.m. EDT with the press secretary’s statement.
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