[QODLink]
Middle East

Armed US drones fly over Baghdad

Aircraft meant to protect US troops sent to Iraq to assess deteriorating situation.

Last updated: 27 Jun 2014 23:21
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
The decision to arm some of the drones follows the deployment of troops who will assist Iraqi forces [AP]

The US has armed drones flying over Baghdad to protect US troops that have recently arrived to assess Iraq's deteriorating security, the Pentagon said on Friday.

The military for more than a week has been flying manned and unmanned aircraft over Iraq, averaging a few dozen sorties daily for reconnaissance.

The decision to arm some of the drones follows the deployment to Baghdad of troops who will advise and assist Iraqi counter-terrorism forces.

"The reason that some of those aircraft are armed is primarily for force protection reasons now that we have introduced into the country some military advisers whose objective will be to operate outside the confines of the embassy," the Defence Department's press secretary, Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby, told a Pentagon press conference.

So far, 180 of 300 troops promised by Obama have arrived in the country. They consist of 90 advisers and 90 who are setting up an operations and intelligence analysis unit.

Targeting rebel leaders

Using US air assets to target rebel leaders is one of the options being prepared for President Barack Obama as he considers what support to provide to Iraq, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, said in a radio interview. Protection of critical infrastructure is part of that option, he said.

"We're flying a great deal (of) manned and unmanned ... intelligence and reconnaissance assets, and we're building a picture so that if the decision were made to support the Iraqi security forces as they confront (ISIL), we could do so," Dempsey said.

A handful of Predators armed with Hellfire missiles are being used over the capital for the new force protection mission, a senior defence official said. The official was not authorised to discuss the new flights on the record and requested anonymity.

Officials stressed that Obama still has not authorised airstrikes against rebels who have been claimed territory in other parts of the country.

320

Source:
AP
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
UNHCR says hundreds of people trapped in Yaloke town risk death if they are not evacuated to safety urgently.
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Featured
Long-standing dispute over Christian use of the word 'Allah' raises concerns about a very un-Merry Christmas.
The threat posed by ISIL has prompted thousands of young Kurds to join the PKK.
Baja California - with its own grim history of disappeared people - finds a voice in the fight against violence.
Russian feminist rockers fight system holding 700,000 - the world's largest per capita prison population after the US.
Weeks of growing protests against Muslims continue in Dresden with 15,000 hitting the streets last Monday.