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130 U.S. troops arrive in Iraq to assist with humanitarian crisis

Another 130 U.S. military advisors landed in Iraq to help rescue thousands of civilians trapped on Sinjar Mountain.
By Gabrielle Levy   |   Aug. 13, 2014 at 8:42 AM   |   Comments

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CAMP PENDELTON, Calif., Aug. 13 (UPI) -- Another 130 U.S. military advisors landed in Iraq to assist in rescuing a minority group under threat from terrorists, the Pentagon announced Tuesday.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said the troops arrived in Erbil, the Kurdish capital in northern Iraq, with the goal of developing a strategy to help rescue thousands of civilians trapped on Sinjar Mountain.

Speaking to marines at Camp Pendleton, in California, Hagel reiterated President Obama's insistence that the effort is limited and the troops are advisory, not combat.

"As the president has made very clear, we're not going back into Iraq in any of the same combat mission dimensions we once were in Iraq," he said. "Very specifically, this is not a combat, boots-on-the-ground operation. We're not going to have that kind of operation. But short of that, there are things we can continue to do and we are doing."

The mission is in line with the goals outlined by the president last week when he announced airstrikes on Islamic State terrorists and humanitarian drops of food and supplies to the Yazidis, the minority sect who were chased up Mount Sinjar by ISIS.

The detachment of 130 Marines and special operators brings the total of U.S. troops in Iraq to above 900, and it was unclear whether the new deployment would run up against Obama's notice to Congress under the War Powers Resolution, which previously authorized 300 troops.

Hagel added Tuesday that Australia and France both pledged to increase their support of the operations in Iraq, on top of aid from the U.K.

Follow @gabbilevy and @UPI on Twitter.
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