Washington: American military personnel in Baghdad are currently assessing the situation and finding ways to help and assist Iraqi security forces, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said today adding that the situation in Iraq, where Islamic militants have taken control of a large part of the country, is "complex and fluid".
"The situation in Iraq, as you all know, is complex and it`s fluid, but there`s no exclusively military solution to the threats posed by ISIL. Our approach is deliberate and flexible. It is designed to bolster our diplomatic efforts and support the Iraqi people. We will remain prepared to protect our people and our interests in Iraq," Hagel said at a Pentagon news conference here.
ISIL, or Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, is alternatively known as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, has gained control over a large territory in Syria and Iraq, declaring an Islamic State.
The US has sent several hundred military personnel to Baghdad to both protect its embassy, the airport and also to provide necessary assistance in mitigating the challenges being posed by ISIL, Hagel said adding that there are no plans to have these troops on a combat mission.
"By reinforcing security at the US embassy, its support facilities in Baghdad International Airport, we`re helping provide our diplomats time and space to work with Sunni, Kurd and Shia political leaders as they attempt to form a new inclusive national unity government.
"By better understanding the conditions on the ground and the capabilities of the Iraqi security forces, we`ll be better able to help advise them as they combat ISIL forces inside their own country," Hagel said.
"Approximately 200 military advisers are now on the ground. We`ve established a joint operation centre with Iraqis in Baghdad. And we have personnel on the ground in Erbil, where our second joint operation centre has achieved initial operating capability.
Assessment teams are also evaluating the capabilities and cohesiveness of Iraqi forces. None of these troops are performing combat missions. None will perform combat missions. President Obama has been very clear that American combat troops are not going to be fighting in Iraq again," he said.
General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that Iraq`s future depends as much on political inclusiveness as it does on security, which will be an important factor in determining what US does going forward.
"We`re there because we have two overriding national security interests a stable Iraq within the region that can be and probably should be a partner with us in countering terrorism that, as you know, spreads from Beirut to Damascus and out to Baghdad," he said.
"ISIL are a regional threat today that could become a trans regional and global threat. So that`s why we`re there. The insurgency after some initial gains, in collaboration with other Sunni groups in northern Iraq made some pretty significant and rapid advances.
"They`re stretched right now to control what they`ve gained and stretched across their logistics lines of communication. The Iraqi security forces are stiffening around Baghdad," Dempsey said.