The U.S. is flying armed drones over Baghdad to protect military advisers who arrived in Iraq earlier this week, according to NBC News.
The Hellfire missile-equipped unmanned aerial vehicles will reportedly defend the American contingent only if they come under attack from militants. The Department of Defense announced earlier this week that both manned and unmanned surveillance aircraft are flying missions over territory held by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Those aircraft are not authorized to fire on militants, but they are armed.
According to the Department of Defense, U.S. aircraft are flying “up to three-dozen surveillance missions over Iraq every day,” according to Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Admiral John Kirby.
President Obama announced last week that the U.S. would send 300 military advisers to help the Iraqi military fight ISIS militants. Obama insisted the advisers would not serve any direct combat role against Sunni militants in the country. The U.S. has also boosted security at the American embassy in Baghdad, moved some embassy personnel out of Baghdad, and has an aircraft carrier group in the Persian Gulf.