The Pentagon insisted Tuesday that there is “no mission creep” in Iraq despite the rising number of U.S. troops in the embattled country with more on the way.
Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, confirmed that 650 American troops were on the ground in Iraq, all of them dispatched by President Barack Obama since June 16.
Two hundred U.S. troops sent Monday, including 100 previously staged in Kuwait, were accompanied by Army Apache attack helicopters to be based at the Baghdad airport.
Kirby said Sunni Islamic militants who’ve seized large sections of the country since June 10 pose a threat to Baghdad but are meeting stiffened resistance from Iraqi security forces aided by Shiite militiamen.
“It continues to be very dangerous,” Kirby told reporters at the Pentagon. “The threat continues to be very real. But we have seen Iraqi security forces in and around Baghdad begin to reinforce themselves and prepare to defend, and they are taking the offensive. And we saw this over the weekend up near Tikrit (north of Baghdad). So it’s a contested environment right now.”. . .