WASHINGTON, June 23 (Xinhua) -- The White House said on Monday that the American troops to be sent to Iraq as advisors to make an assessment of how best to help cope with Islamic militants have been offered protection by the Arab country.
"Suffice it to say that the commander in chief would not make a decision to put our men and women in harm's way without getting some necessary assurances," spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters at a daily news briefing.
President Barack Obama ordered all American troops out of Iraq after failing to obtain legal immunity for those to be left behind, but he announced last week that as many as 300 U.S. military advisors would be sent back as part of measures to help Baghdad counter the lightening advances by fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, a splinter group of al-Qaida also known as ISIL.
"We can confirm that Iraq has provided acceptable assurances on the issue of protections for these personnel, via the exchange of diplomatic note," Earnest said. "We believe these protections are adequate for the short-term assessment and advisor mission our troops will be performing."
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said with the protection offered, the military "will be able to start establishing the first few assessment teams."
The ISIL has seized two big cities -- Mosul and Tikrit -- and other towns in northern and western Iraq in the past two weeks, and took control of two main border crossings with Syria over the weekend.
Obama has held off airstrikes on the militants despite a request by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, calling instead for the establishment of an inclusive government in Baghdad.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited Baghdad on Monday and had talks with al-Maliki and other leaders, as insurgents continue to expand their control across the country.
BAGHDAD, June 23 (Xinhua) -- A security spokesman on Monday denied that an ethnically mixed city in northern Iraq is in the hands of militant groups after days of heavy fighting.
Lieutenant General Qassim Atta, also security spokesman for Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, told a news conference that previous reports, which said Tal Afar, west of Nineveh's provincial capital Mosul, were seized by militants, and that the troops commander fled the city, are false. Full story
WASHINGTON, June 22 (Xinhua) -- Washington is considering airstrikes to quell Islamic extremists rolling through northern Iraq, but the situation is fraught with both political and military pitfalls, and there are no clear answers on the best path forward for the United States.
Fighters from the Sunni group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) are reportedly beheading victims in a bid to instill fear as they sweep through the country's north, and have vowed to attack the capital city of Baghdad. Full story