Home > News > World
Saturday June 28, 2014 MYT 5:10:06 AM
Saturday June 28, 2014 MYT 5:11:07 AM
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration is flying armed aircraft over Iraq, defence officials said on Friday, adding that the flights were aimed at gathering intelligence and ensuring the safety of U.S. personnel on the ground rather than conducting strikes.
"What I would tell you is that we continue to fly both manned and unmanned aircraft over Iraq at the ... Iraqi government's request, predominantly for reconnaissance purposes. Some of those aircraft are armed," Rear Admiral John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters.
"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," he said.
The United States has increased manned and unmanned reconnaissance flights over Iraq - to about 30 to 35 a day - in an effort to help Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's government repel the advance of Islamist militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
More than two years after U.S. forces withdrew, the White House has ruled out sending troops back into combat in Iraq, but it has dispatched military advisors and said it would consider air strikes against the insurgents, who have seized cities and towns across western and northern Iraq.
U.S. intelligence about the ISIL advance is improving but it could take weeks to complete a detailed picture of the threat, and any possible strikes do not appear imminent, U.S. officials said.
The Obama administration also has been working to speed up delivery of U.S. weaponry that Iraq is buying from the United States.
Iraq has requested 800 Hellfire air-to-ground missiles, which enable helicopters to battle tanks and other armoured vehicles, in addition to the hundreds of Hellfire missiles that should be delivered to the country in coming weeks, Kirby said.
"We're processing that as we speak," he said.
(Reporting by Phil Stewart and Missy Ryan; Editing by Paul Simao)
Yemen government rejects Iranian peace plan
Trillions of dollars needed for new bid to end poverty by 2030
Afghan blast kills 33; president blames Islamic State
Mugabe 'shocked, disgusted' by South African anti-immigrant violence
Colombia's Santos calls for deadline on FARC peace talks
Hollande's approval ratings climb off rock bottom - French poll
Jonas double keeps Benfica top, Porto win again
Pan Borneo highway needs to be widened
China's incredible shrinking factory
Copyright © 1995-2015 Star Publications (M) Bhd (Co No 10894-D)