US Sends More Troops to Iraq

Maliki in talks to step down as France sends weapons to Kurds
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 13, 2014 4:53 AM CDT
Updated Aug 13, 2014 7:57 AM CDT
US Sends More Troops to Iraq
Embattled Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is in talks to step down, lawmakers say.   (AP Photo/ Khalid Mohammed, File)

Another 130 Marines and special operations forces have been sent to Iraq to help rescue tens of thousands of Yazidi refugees still trapped on a mountain, but this "is not a combat boots on the ground kind of operation," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says. Speaking at California's Camp Pendleton, he described the extra American troops now in the northern city of Irbil as "assessment team members" who will assist the effort to help members of the Yazidi minority threatened by Islamic State extremists. A helicopter bringing supplies to people trapped on Mount Sinjar crashed yesterday after too many refugees climbed on board. More:

  • As the plight of the refugees becomes increasingly desperate, American officials say a ground force may be necessary to get the refugees off the mountain, the New York Times reports. John Kerry says the 130 advisers will be tasked with finding a safe way out. "We will make a very rapid and critical assessment because we understand it is urgent to try to move those people off the mountain," he told reporters today.

  • Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, meanwhile, appears to have given up on trying to cling to power at any cost, the New York Times notes. He has told troops deployed in Baghdad not to intervene in the crisis—and officials say the military has told Maliki he no longer has their support. Insiders say discussions on Maliki stepping down are now focused on immunity from prosecution. New Iraqi President Fouad Massoum has chosen deputy parliament speaker Haider al-Ibadi as Maliki's replacement.
  • France is sending arms in "coming hours" to Kurds fighting the Islamic State in a situation it calls "catastrophic," reports the AP. The move comes with Baghdad's blessing.
  • Across the border in Syria, Islamic State militants have made fresh gains, reports the AP. Opposition activists say fighters have seized two key towns near the Turkish border after clashes with other rebel groups.
(More Nouri al-Maliki stories.)

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