En av Barack Obamas nærmeste sikkerhetsrådgivere sier det kan bli aktuelt å sende inn ordinære soldater for å hjelpe til med evakueringen av yezidier fra Sanjar-fjellet i Nord-Irak.
130 rådgivere kom onsdag til de kurdiske områdene for å vurdere situasjonen nærmere. Deres vurderinger vil bli bestemmende for hva USA foretar seg, men allerede nå forbereder Obama-administrasjonen amerikanerne på at bakkestyrker kan blir sendt inn. Benjamin Rhodes understreket at det kun var for å delta i en humanitær redningsoperasjon, ikke regulær kamp.
Men grensene begynner å bli flytende. Det er bare halvannen uke siden Obama sa at det ikke var aktuelt med bakkestyrker.
A senior White House official said on Wednesday that the United States would consider using American ground troops to assist Iraqis in rescuing Yazidi refugees if recommended by military advisers assessing the situation.
Benjamin J. Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser, told reporters on Martha’s Vineyard that President Obama would probably receive recommendations in the next several days about how to mount a rescue operation to help the refugees, who are stranded on a mountaintop surrounded by Sunni militants. He said those recommendations could include the use of American ground troops.
But he drew a distinction between the use of American forces to help a humanitarian mission and the use of troops in a battle against the militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, something he said the president had rejected before and continued to oppose.
“What he’s ruled out is reintroducing U.S. forces into combat on the ground in Iraq,” Mr. Rhodes said. He added, using an alternative name for the militant group, that the deployment of ground troops to assist a rescue was “different than reintroducing U.S. forces in a combat role to take the fight to ISIL.”