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article imageMore U.S. troops and equipment to Iraq but no 'mission creep'

By Ken Hanly     Jul 2, 2014 in World
Baghdad - While the Pentagon insists that there is no mission creep in Iraq and that those already present are limited to "advisory" operations, the Obama administration continues to send more equipment and more personnel to Iraq.
The US is rushing Apache attack helicopters and Shadow surveillance drones to Baghdad. All this is supposedly in preparation for the possible evacuation of the US Embassy in Baghdad. However, US officials now say that that US troops will be operating the Apaches in order to protect US interests in but also around Baghdad.
The skies over Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq are becoming crowded as Iran has sent its own drones over the north of the country. US Reaper and Predator drones are reported flying over Baghdad with the US launching 30 to 35 surveillance missions each day over the city. The US planes will be joined now by a number of used Russian Sukhoi jets that Iraq ordered after failing to receive delivery of F-16 fighters from the US. US officials would not say how many of the Apache gunships were sent to Iraq but only that they were to be based in Baghdad.
Obama has added 200 additional troops to ensure the safety of US diplomats and other US personnel working in Iraq and also to fly and maintain the Apache helicopters that were sent. Rear Admiral John Kirby, press secretary for the Pentagon said that there is "no mission creep" in Iraq although he confirmed that there are now 650 US troops on the ground in Iraq all being sent since June 16 — just a couple of weeks ago.
The Obama administration also provides Iraq with Hellfire missiles. Of 500 already ordered, about 400 have been delivered. The Obama administration wants to sell Iraq another 4,000 additional missiles. The orders are keeping the Lockheed Martin plant that makes them work overtime. The Iraqis are using old Cessna planes adapted to fire the missiles.
On the political front little has been achieved. Iraq’s parliament met for the first time since the election but only 255 of 328 MPs showed up, with many boycotting the meeting. The session had to be ended after half an hour when Sunni and Kurdish members walked out leaving those who remained without a quorum. A Kurdish MP claimed that the central government had stopped paying Kurdish officials starting a shouting match. The Shi'ite leader Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani had urged the parliament to choose a new speaker and name a president and premier at the session. No progress on those issues was made.
More about US troops in Iraq, US Iraq relations, Al Maliki government
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