Iraq’s prime minister has said that the US military trainers heading to the country are welcome but “a little late,” a day after US President Barack Obama unveiled plans to send 1,500 additional troops to the war-torn nation.
“This step is a little late, but we welcome it,” a statement from Haidar al-Abadi’s office said on Sunday.
“As a part of our strategy for strengthening partners on the ground, President Obama authorised the deployment of up to 1,500 additional US military personnel in a non-combat role to train, advise, and assist Iraqi Security Forces, including Kurdish forces,” the White House said in a statement on Friday.
The new deployment will eventually boost the total number of US troops in Iraq to 3,100. There now are about 1,400 US troops in the country, out of the 1,600 previously authorised.
In another development on Saturday, US-led air strikes targeted a gathering of ISIL leaders in Iraq.
Witnesses told Al Jazeera that the air strikes hit a house near the al-Qaim border crossing between Iraq and Syria, where the meeting was taking place.
ISIL has captured large swathes of land in Iraq and Syria, declaring what it calls a cross-border Islamic “caliphate” and committing several atrocities in the process.
the US-led coalition’s fighter jets have been bombing the group’s targets in Iraq and Syria, supporting the ground struggle carried out by the central government and Kurdish forces.
ISIL considers Shia Muslims, Christians and members of other religions to be heretics and frequently attacks them.