Pentagon sends attack helicopters to Iraq

 

The United States has sent Apache attack helicopters to Iraq as part of the buildup in U.S. military personnel, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

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Officials would not say how many of the armed helicopters have been sent to the country, stating only that they will be based in Baghdad and could assist with evacuations of American personnel.

The Pentagon also sent over additional surveillance drones.

President Obama on Monday sent 200 additional U.S. troops to Iraq to protect diplomatic facilities and personnel amid growing fears that Sunni militants in the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) could overrun the country. The order brought the total number of U.S. ground forces in Iraq to 750.

On Monday, the State Department announced it was relocating some of its personnel from Baghdad.

Pentagon Press Secretary Adm. John Kirby declined Tuesday to say whether the situation in Iraq was getting better or worse, but said Iraqi forces in and around Baghdad are preparing to defend themselves.

"We have seen Iraqi security forces in and around Baghdad begin to reinforce themselves and prepare to defend, and they are taking the offensive. And we saw this over the weekend up near Tikrit. So it's a contested environment right now," Kirby said.

"The situation on the ground continues to change. It's very fluid. It's dynamic. The threat to Baghdad is still very legitimate. And we also want to make sure that we are doing what we can to help our colleagues in the State Department continue to function out of the embassy there and to have the flexibility, if they want to make resource and manning changes there, that we're able — we're in a position to help them do that," Kirby said.