U.S. to send up to 450 more troops to train Iraqis

Obama is expected to stick to his stance against sending American troops into combat or even close to the front lines

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The White House says the United States will send up to 450 more troops to Iraq to boost the training of local forces, amid recent gains from Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants.

The move is a response to Baghdad’s appeals for more help.

Under the plan, the number of U.S. training sites in Iraq would increase from four to five, enabling a larger number of Iraqis to join the fight against the Islamic militant group. Most of the fighters would be Sunni tribal volunteers.

The White House says President Barack Obama made the decision at the request of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and based on advice from Pentagon leaders.

Obama continues to resist demands for combat troops or for more U.S. soldiers on the ground to call in air strikes.

Meanwhile U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner said on Wednesday a new
U.S. plan to send additional personnel to train Iraqi forces was a “step in the right direction” but not a sufficient strategy to defeat ISIS.

“It’s clear that our training mission alone has not been enough,” Boehner said. The plan would expand the 3,100-person U.S. contingent of trainers and advisers in Iraq and would involve opening a new military base there.

The initial plan was to train about 9,000 Iraqi troops in a year. As of last Thursday, 8,920 Iraqi troops had received training at four different sites and another 2,601 were currently in some stage of training, he said.

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