Americans have been repeatedly assured there would be no “boots–on-the-ground” in Iraq after the latest violence hit, but in addition to the 300 military advisers and 275 Marines sent last week, the White House announced that 200 U.S. troops arrived in Baghdad yesterday and today. The remaining 100 warriors will be there soon.
The additional troops bring with them a detachment of drones and helicopters, increasing general security and travel route security in the area.
Several days ago, Iraq’s Prime Minister concentrated forces around the perimeter of Baghdad, although many of those men are civilian volunteers, not highly-trained troops.
Estimates vary, but with the newly assigned forces at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, embassy officials, and contract security forces inside the compound, there are approximately 750 U.S. citizens now literally “holding down the fort.”
It’s not only Americans, but the jewel of all the U.S. embassies abroad that is at stake. At a cost of $750 million, the U.S. Embassy in Iraq spans nearly 5 million square feet and is the world’s most massive and expensive embassy.
The entire compound has been in the sights of the ISIS militants who have savagely taken down cities, murdered civilians, and robbed banks and businesses as they’ve stormed across the country.
The airport is the lifeline to not only the city, but the entire mid-section of the country. Breaching the embassy compound and taking over the Baghdad International Airport would be the crown jewel of the ISIS conquests. And it’s not only military reinforcements flocking into the airport, as of Saturday five Russian fighter jets have arrived to augment the current Iraqi Air Force’s fleet of fighter jets.
Insiders at the embassy compound feel like they are already being held hostage, since leaving is not an option. Sleep is elusive as bombs and rockets go off at all hours of the day and night. The Iraqi Minister of Communications has shut down news feeds from CNN and CSPAN to televisions inside the compound. Cell phone and Facebook access is spotty.
This Examiner has a U.S. contact inside the embassy; updates as they are available.