Military Times

New search-and-rescue teams moving into Iraq

The U.S. military is moving additional troops and aircraft into Iraq to prepare for combat search-and-rescue missions, a defense official said Friday.

The move comes amid heightened concern about the risks to U.S. and coalition partner pilots flying over Iraq and Syria.

Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said some aircraft were recently deployed into northern Iraq as a precaution.

"It increases our ability to respond rapidly," Warren saidFriday.

Warren declined to identify the number of troops or aircraft. Reports suggest it includes a detachment of V-22 Ospreys.

The United Arab Emirates, a key U.S. ally in the Middle East, halted direct participation in the American-led bombing campaign in December shortly after a Jordanian aircraft crashed in Syria.

The Islamic State group captured and executed the pilot of the Jordanian aircraft, Moaz al-Kasasbeh and recently released a video showing the pilot was burned alive.

The U.S. and its partners have conducted a total of 2,290 airstrikes in Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria since the air campaign began in August, Warren said Friday.

There are more than 2,600 U.S. troops in Iraq, according to Pentagon data provided Friday.

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