1:16 pm - Tuesday November 3, 2015

US military deploys assessment teams in Iraq

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WASHINGTON: The US military began deploying assessment teams in Baghdad on Tuesday to evaluate the state of Iraqi security forces and decide how to help them counter an Islamist insurgency that has overrun part of the country, the Pentagon said.

Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said about 40 special operations personnel already in the country and assigned to the US embassy’s office of security cooperation had been deployed as part of the first two assessment teams.

About 90 additional troops arrived in Iraq to begin helping establish a joint operations centre in Baghdad with Iraqi forces. Another 50 US military personnel working in the region are expected to arrive within the next few days to create four additional assessment teams, Kirby said.

US military personnel also are flying regular manned and unmanned reconnaissance flights over Iraq — about 30 to 35 per day — to give better insight about the situation on the ground and help the assessment teams, Kirby said.

The deployments took place a day after US officials announced they had received assurances from Baghdad that American troops engaged in the assistance effort would not be prosecuted for any alleged wrongdoing in Iraqi courts.

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