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US envoy hints at further Iraq expansion

US envoy hints at further Iraq expansion
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Retired Gen. John Allen, the president's envoy to the international coalition against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) said Wednesday the U.S. could establish a presence at more bases in Iraq. 

"We may see additional ones in the future as time goes on," Allen said in an interview on PBS's "Newshour." 

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"It shouldn't be a surprise, nor is it unusual, that we would want to create that operational base from which then the training can occur that can provide the means by which the Iraqis can leap off into the attack and ultimately move out," he said. 

Allen said the "concept of additional operational platforms has always been under consideration." 

The prospect of future U.S. advising and training sites in Iraq was first raised by Gen. Martin Dempsey last week. The suggestion caused alarm at the prospect of sending more troops to man those sites. 

It also came just after the administration announced the deployment of 450 more troops to Iraq, raising the total number authorized to 3,550.  

Those troops will be based at a new site at the Al Taqaddum air base, to better advise and assist Iraqi forces, as well as recruit and facilitate the training and equipping of Sunni tribal fighters. 

Allen said those forces are "ultimately to be trained by Americans and Iraqis" to enable them to take back eastern Anbar province.