WASHINGTON, June 26 (Xinhua) -- An additional four teams of 50 U.S. advisors ordered to help the Iraqi military counter a terrorist threat have arrived in Baghdad, Pentagon spokesman Steve Warren said on Thursday.
U.S. forces in Baghdad have opened the first of two planned joint operations centers in Iraq to assess the security situation in the wake of the rapid territorial gains made by Sunni militants, and the number of American service members there was about 500, Warren said at a press conference.
"It will of course serve as a fusion center where information that's coming in from the various teams can be consolidated and it can be analyzed," he said.
Warren described the deployments as enhanced teams commanded by lieutenant colonels that are fanning out across Baghdad and assessing the Iraqi military.
They were part of what could be up to 300 U.S. military advisors President Barack Obama has ordered to Iraq to assess an insurgency led by Syrian-based Sunni militants who have overrun towns and cities across the country's north and west while continuing to move closer to Baghdad, facing little or no resistance from Iraqi security forces, he said.
The assessment teams are mostly made up of Army Special Forces personnel and they will advise and assist the Iraqi military at various levels of command.
With the arrival of the additional 50 special operation forces, which the Pentagon said happened late Wednesday, a total of about 180 of the up to 300 U.S. military forces ordered into Iraq are already on the ground.
Overall, there are approximately 500 American military personnel in Iraq. "Some of them are conducting an advise and assist mission, some are manning the joint operations center, some are part of anti-terrorism security cooperation platoon," Warren said.
Warren did not comment on reports that Iran is operating drones over Iraq and supplying the Baghdad government with arms, but he revealed that the United States will establish another joint operations center in northern Iraq in the coming days or weeks.