Skip to main content

Obama signs off on request for more U.S. troops in Baghdad

By Chelsea J. Carter and Jomana Karadsheh, CNN
updated 7:53 AM EDT, Wed September 3, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Obama approves request for more U.S. troops in Baghdad, White House says
  • Scores storm the Iraqi parliament building
  • Families want to know the whereabouts of loved ones after a June ISIS attack near Tikrit
  • ISIS overran a base formerly known as Camp Speicher and says it killed 1,700 Iraqi forces

Baghdad, Iraq (CNN) -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday authorized additional troops be deployed to Iraq to protect American diplomatic facilities and personnel in Baghdad.

The 350 troops are being sent at the request of the U.S. Department of State to beef up security, an appeal that comes as the violence mounts as Iraqi security forces battle ISIS fighters and their Sunni militant allies.

"The request he approved today will allow some previously deployed military personnel to depart Iraq, while at the same time providing a more robust, sustainable security force for our personnel and facilities in Baghdad," according to a statement released by the White House.

The new troops will bring the number of American troops in Iraq to well over 1,000, with most serving either as diplomatic security or military advisers to Iraq's security forces.

Does the Sotloff video hold clues on ISIS?
ISIS recruits young children in video
McCain: ISIS is a direct threat to U.S.

Even as the Pentagon and the White House stressed the new troops were not being sent to Iraq in a combat role, they will be arriving at a critical time.

Iraqi forces, aided by U.S. military airstrikes, have begun to make gains against ISIS, which calls itself the Islamic State.

Obama: ISIS killers will not intimidate U.S.

U.S. airstrikes hit ISIS targets

The strikes destroyed or damaged what the Pentagon described as 16 ISIS armed vehicles near the Mosul Dam, which was retaken last month by Iraqi and Kurdish forces.

Obama authorized targeted airstrikes last month to protect U.S. personnel in Iraq -- including military advisers -- as well as minorities being brutalized by ISIS.

The additional U.S. troops will include "a headquarters element, medical personnel, associated helicopters and an air liaison team and helicopter crews," Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said.

"This action was taken at the recommendation of the Department of Defense after an extensive interagency review and is part of the President's commitment to protect our personnel and facilities in Iraq as we continue to support the government of Iraq in its fight" against ISIS.

Families of missing soldiers demand answers

Even as the United States beefed up its own security at the Embassy, the families of missing Iraqi security force members stormed Parliament on Tuesday to demand answers about the fate of their loved ones.

Iraqi families demand answers
ISIS photos seem to show mass execution
Critics hammer Obama over ISIS threat

More than 100 family members clashed with security before entering the building, located in the International Zone, commonly known as the Green Zone. They vandalized the interior and became aggressive with people inside, , a parliamentary official told CNN.

They are refusing to leave until their concerns are addressed.

The families are angry over the lack of information about the victims of an alleged massacre of Iraqi forces and cadets near Tikrit, when a military base formerly known as Camp Speicher was overrun by ISIS in June.

In recent weeks, family members of the recruits have been protesting outside the International Zone. Some have met with lawmakers.

They want the bodies of their sons returned to them for burial, and they want the missing to be brought back.

The killings at Camp Speicher are among the worst atrocities claimed by ISIS in Iraq. The group, which refers to itself as the "Islamic State," said it killed 1,700 Iraqi forces, but no official figures have been released.

A senior health official told CNN at the time that more than 1,000 families have registered that they had sons at the camp.

READ: How will Obama respond to ISIS?

READ: Remembering Steven Sotloff

MAPS: Where do jihadis come from?

Jomana Karadsheh reported from Baghdad, and Chelsea J. Carter reported and wrote from Atlanta. CNN's Jim Acosta contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
ISIS
updated 10:39 AM EST, Fri December 26, 2014
The latest ISIS-appointed governor of Mosul was killed in coalition airstrikes on Christmas Day, according to Iraqi police.
updated 11:56 AM EST, Fri December 26, 2014
A coalition pilot was captured by ISIS after a Jordanian military plane crashed in Syria.
updated 8:50 AM EST, Thu December 25, 2014
Author Juergen Todenhoefer says ISIS are "more dangerous than people realize."
updated 10:47 AM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
There's yet another new name for ISIS among those fighting against the terror group. Daesh.
updated 8:30 PM EST, Mon December 1, 2014
The FBI warns U.S military that ISIS are looking for individuals who may be interested in carrying out attacks on home soil.
updated 11:07 AM EST, Mon December 1, 2014
Iraq's Prime Minister says there is evidence of 50,000 soldiers being paid while inactive.
updated 6:17 PM EST, Mon December 1, 2014
Pentagon insider Ashton Carter is expected to be President Barack Obama's nominee for Defense Secretary.
updated 6:32 PM EST, Wed November 12, 2014
Wolf Blitzer talks to Rep. Ed Royce about the White House's new ISIS strategy that involves removing Bashar al-Assad.
updated 6:36 AM EST, Thu November 13, 2014
Just two weeks ago, Yasir was regularly strapped into an explosive vest and handed guns and a radio to stand guard at an ISIS base in Syria.
updated 5:49 PM EST, Wed November 12, 2014
How did three U.S. teenagers become radicalized? CNN's Pamela Brown reports.
updated 9:26 PM EST, Tue November 4, 2014
Reza Aslan examines the appeal of ISIS and why the group is able to successfully attract so many recruits.
updated 9:18 AM EST, Mon November 3, 2014
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh takes a look at how ISIS is using media to desensitize children.
updated 7:33 PM EDT, Sun October 26, 2014
A new propaganda video from ISIS features a Canadian ISIS member who died in combat.
Explore CNN's interactive that explains ISIS' roots, what it controls, and where its support comes from.
ADVERTISEMENT