A team of 100 contingency response airmen have been ordered into Iraq to protect U.S. assets at Baghdad International Airport, shown here in a 2008 photo. (Hadi Mizban / The Associated Press)
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A team of 100 contingency response airmen have been ordered into Iraq to protect U.S. assets at Baghdad International Airport.
The airman and another 200 new troops — charged with protecting Americans in locations such as the embassy in the capital — are being sent because the Pentagon has “reason to be concerned” about the safety of the airport and other areas in Baghdad, Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said Tuesday.
The team of airmen
had been standing by outside Iraqsince June 16. The contingency response group, which includes the airmen, were ordered to protect U.S. personnel and assets, not the entire airport, Kirby said.
A total of 650 troops are now in Iraq, including 470 troops for security assistance and 180 to set up a joint operations center and assess the situation on the ground as the insurgent group the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant surrounds the capital. The 650 are short of the 770 that have been authorized, with the rest expected soon to set up a second joint operations center, Kirby said.
U.S. aircraft in Baghdad for security purposes now include Army AH-64 Apaches and remotely piloted aircraft. Kirby said that the drones do not include Air Force MQ-1B Predators and MQ-9 Reapers, and instead are smaller aircraft, which could include aircraft such as Army RQ-7 Shadows.
In addition, larger armed drones, such as the Predator, have begun to fly over Iraq from outside the country, the Pentagon said Friday.