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Obama Asks Lawmakers To Fund More Iraq Deployments, Ebola Aid

  • RFE/RL

U.S. President Barack Obama has asked Republican and Democratic lawmakers to approve funds before year-end that will help deploy an additional 1,500 U.S. troops to Iraq to help in the fight against Islamic State militants.

The troops are to serve as advisers and trainers for Iraqi government forces and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, as well as to serve as security and logistical support in a non-combat capacity.

Obama has also asked lawmakers from both parties to approve $6.1 billion in emergency funding before year-end to battle the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and to bridge their differences and pass 2015 spending bills before mid-December.

The November 7 White House lunch came after midterm elections that saw Republicans win control in both chambers of the next Congress, which will convene in early January.

Obama told the lawmakers that he needs them to quickly approve $5.6 billion funding for operations in Iraq and Syria against IS extremists.

That includes $1.6 billion for the additional troop deployments he authorized on November 7 – which will bring to 3,100 the total number of U.S. troops training and equipping Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters.

U.S. General Lloyd Austin, the head of U.S. Central Command, updated the lawmakers at the meeting about the fight against IS.

At the Pentagon, spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby stressed to reporters that there is "no intent" to put newly deployed U.S. military trainers and advisers out in the field with Iraqi troops "once they’ve been trained."

Kirby said: "Nothing has changed about the policy that there will be no reintroduction of U.S. troops in a combat role in Iraq."

Kirby noted that the majority of the 1,500 additional U.S. soldiers being sent to Iraq for the "advise-and-assist mission will actually not be advisers. "

Kirby said: "They will be force-protection personnel, as well as command-and-control, logistics."

He also stressed that the trainers will be operating at fixed sites that U.S. military officials are "surveying right now."

Obama is scheduled to travel to Asia during the weekend where he will attend a November 10-11 summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Community (APEC).

The outgoing Congress will convene on November 12 to start its last session.

That session is scheduled to end in mid-December.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP