The U.S. will deploy around 100 special operations troops to Iraq to assist in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) U.S. Army Colonel Steve Warren confirmed at a Department of Defense press briefing Wednesday.
Described as a specialized expeditionary targeting force, the troops will “conduct raids, free hostages, gather intelligence and capture ISIL leaders,” Warren said, using an alternative acronym for ISIS.
The majority of the personnel will support the Iraqi army and Kurdish Peshmerga, with a smaller number of “trigger-pullers” conducting operations in Iraq and across the border in Syria, he added.
The 100 commandos join the 3,500 U.S. troops already stationed in Iraq.
Although Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi welcomed the assistance, Reuters also reported him as saying that Iraq did not need foreign ground combat troops. Any special operations would require Iraqi approval, Abadi said.
The deepening involvement comes a little more than a month since Washington agreed to send 50 special operators to Syria in October.