Obama okays 450 more troops for Iraq training mission | Singapore Informer

US President Barack Obama on Wednesday approved the deployment of 450 more US military trainers to Iraq, a cautious bid to reverse gains by the Islamic State group.

The White House said the forces will join an already 3100-strong mission to “train, advise and assist” the Iraqi army and Sunni tribal fighters.

The new contingent will focus on wresting back control of provincial capital Ramadi.

Islamic State seized the predominately Sunni city near Baghdad in May, punching a giant hole in Obama’s strategy to “defeat and degrade” the jihadist group.

Obama has ruled out putting combat troops on the ground, instead offering air support, arms and training to an amalgam of disparate Iraqi forces.

There will now be “expedited delivery of essential equipment and materiel” for those tribal and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters — in coordination with the central government in Baghdad.

While senior Obama military and civilian aides indicate he “hasn’t ruled out any additional steps,” such as providing field advisors or personnel to call in airstrikes, they say the current strategy will remain in place.

“The president has made it clear that he will look at a range of different options,” said Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes.

“Our overriding focus here is making sure that there is Iraqi capacity on the ground.”

© AFP Photo US President Barack Obama has approved the deployment of up to 450 more US military personnel to Iraq.

Fight for Anbar

The new US training contingent will be based at Taqaddum Air Base, perched between jihadist-held Ramadi and Fallujah.

That puts US…

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