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Obama: No Iraq Combat Mission For U.S. Troops

  • RFE/RL

U.S. President Barack Obama (center) takes part in a briefing with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (left) and the commander of U.S. Central Command, General Lloyd Austin, at U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Florida, on September 17.

U.S. President Barack Obama (center) takes part in a briefing with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (left) and the commander of U.S. Central Command, General Lloyd Austin, at U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Florida, on September 17.

U.S. President Barack Obama says U.S. troops will have no combat role in Iraq.

Obama told troops at the headquarters of U.S. Central Command in Florida on September 17, "The American forces that have been deployed to Iraq do not and will not have a combat mission."

Obama also said that more than 40 countries have offered to help an emerging coalition against the Islamic State (IS) extremist group.

Obama's statement came after his top general, Martin Dempsey, has suggested suggested some U.S. advisers could join Iraqi forces to fight Islamic State.

Dempsey, who is chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on September 16 that Obama will evaluate each situation individually before deciding if U.S. military advisers will be put into combat roles in Iraq.

Dempsey told the committee that Obama told him to "to come back to him on a case-by-case basis."

In reaction to Dempsey's statement, Iraq's new prime minister, Haidar al-Abadi, said on September 17 that foreign ground troops were neither needed nor wanted in his country's fight against Islamic State.

Abadi said the fight against the group will be endless unless the militants -- who control a large swath of land spanning both countries -- are attacked in Syria as well.

In Washington, FBI Director James Comey told Congress on September 17 that support for Islamic State increased after U.S. air strikes began in Iraq.

Comey added that the group may take more hostages to try to force concessions from Washington.

Meanwhile, security sources said Iraqi forces launched an intense military operation against IS insurgents in Ramadi, Fallujah, and Haditha in the western Anbar Province on September 17.

Sunni tribes revolted in these areas in late 2013 when Iraq's former prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, moved his forces into the cities to suppress a year-long antigovernment protest movement.

Islamic State insurgents then entered the cities and became the dominant force in the fighting against the Shi'ite-led government.

Abadi promised last week to end strikes on cities in order to reduce civilian casualties.

The September 17 operations were on outlying suburbs of the three cities.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and AP
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