The United States has deployed about 200 special operations forces to Iraq “to work with” the Iraqi military in the fight against the Daesh terrorist group, according to US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.
"The specialized expeditionary targeting force I announced in December is now in place and is preparing to work with the Iraqis to begin going after ISIL's fighters and commanders," Carter said at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, on Wednesday.
The new force is separate from another deployment last year of about 50 US special operations troops in Syria to work with US-backed militants fighting the Syrian government.
The Pentagon will also deploy about 500 soldiers to Iraq and Kuwait next month as part of the campaign against ISIL Takfiris.
Iraqi officials have repeatedly denounced the deployment of US troops to their country with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi stressing that any deployment requires his government's consent.
Opposing any expansion of the US role in Iraq comes against the backdrop of mistrust among Iraqis and their leaders in regard to Washington's intentions.
Carter's speech emphasized advances by Iraqi forces, including the recapture of the city of Ramadi from Daesh.
Obama, in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday, said his administration is focused on destroying ISIL.
Since 2014, Washington and some of its allies have been conducting airstrikes against what they call Daesh positions in Iraq and Syria.
Daesh terrorists, who were initially trained by the CIA in Jordan in 2012 to destabilize the Syrian government, now control parts of the country and the neighboring Iraq.
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