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US adding troops in Iraq to aid Sunni integration

Updated: 2015-06-12 07:32
By Agencies in Washington (China Daily)

Move won't place advisers closer to front lines of war

Amid persistent setbacks in the fight against Islamic State. US President Barack Obama turned his military's focus to the Sunni-Shiite divide, ordering hundreds of troops to Iraq to better integrate Iraqi forces and lay the groundwork to retake Ramadi and other key cities.

The expanded military campaign will set up a new base in Anbar province to advise Iraqi forces on how to plan and organize operations and help them reach out to Sunni tribes and bring them into the battle.

But it leaves out any move to send US forces closer to the front lines, either to call in airstrikes or advise smaller battlefront units, underscoring Obama's reluctance to plunge the military deeper into war and risk the sight of more body bags coming home from Iraq.

Under the plan announced on Wednesday, up to 450 more US troops will deploy to Iraq in the next six to eight weeks and set up at al-Taqaddum a fifth training site. The desert air base, a US military hub during the 2003-11 war, will be dedicated to helping the Iraqi army integrate Sunni tribes into the fight - an element seen as a crucial to driving the Islamic State group out of the Sunni-majority areas of western Iraq.

The expanded effort also will include expediting the delivery of US equipment and arms to Iraq, including directly to troops at al-Taqaddum, under the authority of the government in Baghdad

The US insists that its citizens will not have a combat role, but they may venture out of the base in order to help identify and recruit Sunni tribes. About a quarter of the new troops will be advisers, and the remainder will handle security, logistics and other administrative tasks.

Also on Wednesday, a State Department spokesman said that a US man was killed in Syria, but declined to elaborate.

Department spokesman Jeff Rathke identified the man as Keith Broomfield.

NBC News reported Broomfield was in Syria fighting alongside Kurdish forces against Islamic State militants. Reuters could not immediately confirm why Broomfield was in Syria.

AP - Reuters

 US adding troops in Iraq to aid Sunni integration

Iraqi Shiites ride on a vehicle on Wednesday in the town of Baiji, north of Tikrit, to fight alongside Iraqi forces against the Islamic State jihadist group. Their goal is to retake the strategic northern Iraqi town for a second time. Ahmad Alrubaye / Agence France-Presse

 

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