CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (AP) — Another 130 U.S. troops arrived in Iraq on Tuesday on what the Pentagon described as a temporary mission to assess the scope of the humanitarian crisis facing thousands of displaced Iraqi civilians trapped on Sinjar Mountain and evaluate options for getting them out to safety.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced the deployment in remarks to Marines at this Southern California base on the final stop of a weeklong, around-the-world trip that also took him to India, Germany and Australia.
"This is not a combat boots on the ground kind of operation," Hagel said. "We're not going back into Iraq in any of the same combat mission dimensions that we once were in in Iraq," he added, referring to the eight-year war that cost more than 4,400 U.S. lives and soured the American public on military involvement in Iraq.
Another defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity to provide additional details on the sensitive mission, said the extra troops were Marines and special operations forces whose mission was to assess the situation in the Sinjar area and to develop additional humanitarian assistance options beyond current U.S. efforts there. Still another official said the mission for the 130 troops could last less than one week.
That official also said that while the troops were not being sent in to execute some type of rescue mission of the Yazidis on the mountain, they would assess the feasibility of a rescue or what one might look like. The also would assist in the ongoing effort to evaluate the use of airstrikes as part of the mission to protect the Yazidis from attacks by the Islamic State militants.
Hagel referred to the 130 as "assessors." ...