The Obama Administration sent an additional 130 American military personnel to Iraq, the Department of Defense confirmed Tuesday. Not to be confused with actual ground forces, the troops will serve as military advisers for the Kurdish and Iraqi armed forces.
The group consists of Marines and special operations forces who have been sent to Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan region and home of the U.S. Consulate. Their role is to assist Kurdish forces fighting the Islamic State (ISIS) and to help rescue the thousands of Yazidi Iraqis still stranded on Sinjar Mountain. The advisers will join the 300 military personnel already stationed around Iraq.
The president’s decision came several days after he authorized targeted air strikes on ISIS strongholds around Erbil to avoid a potential “genocide” of Iraq’s Yazidi minority. Additional advisers came from a Secretary of Defense recommendation, according to State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mary Harf.
Meanwhile on Tuesday, a member of the Senate Armed Services issued a statement calling on the White House to get approval from Congress before continuing air strikes. In July, the House passed a resolution forbidding Obama from sending troops to Iraq in a “sustained combat role” without permission from Congress.
"This is especially the case since the president has indicated that our renewed military engagement in Iraq could be a long-term project," Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., said in a statement. "I have long stressed that Congress must formally approve the initiation of significant military action."
The Obama administration reiterated on Tuesday that combat troops would not be sent to Iraq.
“There will be no reintroduction of American combat forces into Iraq,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a press conference. “Nobody, I think, is looking forwards to a return to the road that we’ve traveled.”