Pentagon proposes U.S. special forces for Iraq

Up to 100 U.S. special forces -- probably Green Berets, Army Rangers and Navy SEALs -- would go to Iraq to advise the Iraqi military and collect intelligence under a Pentagon plan offered to President Barack Obama, according to several U.S. officials.

An announcement on the plan could come Thursday, though the officials made clear that Obama will decide whether to accept it and when to announce it. The President will make a statement about Iraq at 12:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, the White House announced.

Obama is under pressure to help the embattled Iraqi government stave off a lightning advance toward Baghdad by Sunni Islamist fighters of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

The U.S. officials familiar with the plan, who spoke to CNN on condition of not being identified, said the deployment would begin with several small military teams and grow larger over time.

Teams would be placed around Iraq in the headquarters of Iraqi military brigades and tasked with gathering intelligence on ISIS forces, such as their location, numbers and weaponry, the officials said. Such information could provide needed intelligence if Obama decides to proceed with U.S. airstrikes on ISIS fighters, as requested by Iraq.

So far, the Obama administration has ruled out U.S. combat troops on the ground in Iraq. While the U.S. special forces in the Pentagon plan would not be in front-line combat positions and their role would officially be a combat mission, officials acknowledge the American troops could be in dangerous situations based on their location.

The United States already has started manned reconnaissance flights over Iraq, in addition to drones, and also has announced plans for up to 275 military personnel to go to Baghdad and elsewhere in the region to assist American embassy and consular personnel if needed.

 

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