Barack Obama will send about 300 military advisers to Iraq to support security forces opposing Islamist insurgents.
Announcing the aid, Mr Obama said, “American combat troops are not going to be fighting in Iraq again. We do not have the ability to simply solve this problem by sending in tens of thousands of troops…”
Mr Obama has not responded to Iraq’s request for US air strikes against rebel fighters. The US will however “share intelligence and coordinate planning to confront the terrorist threat of ISIS”. Mr Obama reserved the right to take precise military action if needed.
Meanwhile, Canberra has sent a small group of Australian soldiers to Iraq to protect Australian embassy staff in Baghdad. Fairfax Media reported that the group will link with 250 US troops guarding the US embassy. If there is any immediate threat to the Australian embassy, the staff will be safely moved to a larger US compound.
After two days of intense fighting, Iraqi government forces have regained full control of the country’s major refinery in Baiji. General Qassim Atta confirmed “militants have been driven off the refinery’s ground”.
Since the incursion began last week, about 500,000 people have fled the occupied city of Mosul. Many refugees, about 300,000 of whom are of Kurdish origin, have fled to Kurdish strongholds to seek shelter with friends and family. Those without connections have been forced to move to the Khazer refugee camp outside the city of Kalak, where extra tents have been erected.
The Institute for the Study of War’s situation report summarises the latest developments in the struggle to contain ISIS forces. – Compiled from web sources and agency reports by Paige Pollard
Top photo of Barack Obama from US Embassy’s Flickr photostream.