WASHINGTON – The United State is deploying up to 275 military troops to Iraq to protect the U.S. Embassy and other American interests and is considering sending a contingent of special forces soldiers as Iraq struggles to repel a rampant insurgency, officials said Monday. The White House insisted anew the U.S. would not be sending combat troops and thrusting America into a new Iraq war.
President Obama, in a formal report to Congress, said the troops in in the deployment he was announcing would be equipped for combat and would remain in Iraq until the security situation improved. 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 Monday, a U.S. official said, the U.S. would put an additional 100 soldiers in a nearby third country where they would be held in reserve until needed.
Separately, U.S. officials emphasized that a possible limited special forces mission — which has not yet been approved — would focus on training and advising beleaguered Iraqi troops, many of whom have fled their posts across the nation's north and west as the Al Qaeda-inspired insurgency has advanced in the worst threat to the country since American troops left in 2011.