The actions reflect the growing U.S. concern about the threat
posed by the Sunni Muslim militants who have captured parts of Iraq
and Syria, and came on the same day that Islamic State released a
video purporting to show its beheading of a second American hostage.
The White House said the additional troops heading to Baghdad would
not serve in a combat role.
Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said the move
to augment a U.S. force already in Baghdad providing security at the
large embassy compound and its support facilities would bring the
total number of military personnel to bolster diplomatic security in
Iraq to about 820.
Obama left Washington on Tuesday to visit Estonia and then attend a
NATO summit in Wales.
The White House said Obama would be consulting this week with NATO
allies on additional actions to take against Islamic State forces
and "to develop a broad-based international coalition to implement a
comprehensive strategy to protect our people and to support our
partners" against the group.
As part of that effort, the White House said, the United States
would send Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck
Hagel and Obama’s counterterrorism adviser, Lisa Monaco, to the
Middle East "in the near-term to build a stronger regional
The U.S. military has carried out a series of airstrikes against the
group in Iraq, with the most recently announced one coming on
The United States invaded Iraq in 2003, toppling President Saddam
Hussein, and Obama withdrew the last of the American military force
in 2011. The United States previously deployed fresh troops to
provide embassy security in Baghdad in June.
[to top of second column]
Islamic State released a video on Tuesday purporting to show the
beheading of a second American hostage, journalist Steven Sotloff,
raising the stakes in its confrontation with Washington over U.S.
airstrikes on its insurgents in Iraq.
Obama has faced bipartisan criticism since he said last week that
"we don't have a strategy yet" for confronting the militant group's
operations in Syria.
In addition, the issue of the security of American diplomatic
compounds is a sensitive one for the president, who is still
grappling with political fallout from a 2012 attack on a U.S.
facility in Benghazi, Libya, that killed the U.S. ambassador there
and three other Americans.
"The President has made clear his commitment to doing whatever is
required to provide the necessary security for U.S. personnel and
facilities around the world," White House spokesman Josh Earnest
said in a statement.
"The request he approved today will allow some previously deployed
military personnel to depart Iraq, while at the same time providing
a more robust, sustainable security force for our personnel and
facilities in Baghdad," Earnest added.
(Reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by Peter Cooney)
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