The first wave of an additional 350 U.S. troops supplementing security personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad have arrived in Iraq, Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren said Thursday.
Col. Warren said a sizable portion of the military personnel were airlifted to the war-ravaged country during the past 24 hours.
“They’ve begun to flow in,” he said. “Maybe a third or so are over there now.”
The rest of the troops will trickle into Iraq over the next several days, Col. Warren said. The troops hail from across the services, he said.
The U.S. government decided to send the additional soldiers to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad after Pentagon drones provided military planners with a clearer picture of the Islamic State group’s “posture around Baghdad.”
Government officials have stated that the State Department’s request for an additional 350 troops was not prompted by a specific threat.
But a senior Pentagon official said more specifically Wednesday that the deployment was motivated in part by the intelligence collected from the Defense Department’s unmanned aircraft and fighter jets. That intelligence has been able to pinpoint the location Islamic State militants and offer details about their weaponry.
The official noted that the U.S. government remains concerned the Islamic State, also known as ISIL, may deploy snipers in proximity to the Embassy, set off car bombs or dispatch suicide bombers to the building’s gates.
“There’s not a specific threat,” the official said. “There’s a growing concern that ISIL wants to conduct attacks in Baghdad — specifically against the embassy.”