President Barack Obama announced on Monday that he plans to send 275 U.S. soldiers to Iraq to “provide support and security for U.S. personnel and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.”
The president made his plans known in a letter to Congress, according to TheBlaze.
“The force is deploying for the purpose of protecting U.S. citizens and property, if necessary, and is equipped for combat,” the letter read. “This force will remain in Iraq until the security situation becomes such that it is no longer needed.”
The announcement comes in the wake of news that al-Qaida-linked Sunni militants captured another city in the war-torn country on Monday. The New York Post reports the group of fighters, known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, captured Tal Afar less than a week after they occupied the cities of Mosul and Tikrit. ISIL has vowed to march on Baghdad.
The U.S. State Department has already begun moving non-essential personnel from the Baghdad embassy to embassies in other countries and to consulates in other parts of Iraq.
A portion of the 275 soldiers — about 170 — have already arrived in the country to defend the embassy. Another 100 soldiers will be put on standby and stationed in a neighboring country, most likely Kuwait, according to The Associated Press.
The administration is also reportedly considering deploying 100 special forces troops to Iraq to help train and advise Iraqi soldiers, according to Fox News.
The White House would not confirm those reports but National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said the president is considering many options.
"He has asked his national security team to prepare a range of other options that could help support Iraqi security forces,” Hayden said. She stressed that President Obama is not considering putting U.S. forces in an active combat role.
“The president was very clear that we will not be sending US troops back into combat in Iraq,” she said.