President Barack Obama has sent 130 U.S. military advisers to northern Iraq as part of an effort to help minority sects being threatened by Islamic militants there, officials told NBC News on Tuesday.
A senior defense official said the U.S. was sending the personnel "to assess the scope of the humanitarian mission."
The U.S. has been conducting airstrikes on militants with the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), as well as dropping food and water for civilians — mainly from the Yazidi community — threatened by the rebels in the Sinjar region.
The "temporary additional forces" comprise Marines and Special Operations forces from within the U.S. Central Command region, the official said. They will not be engaged in a combat role but instead will work with representatives from the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development to "coordinate plans with international partners and non-government organizations committed to helping the Yazidi people."
They arrived in Erbil, Iraq, on Tuesday, the defense official said.