An American Pentagon official said on Friday that US drones started flying over the Iraqi capital Baghdad to protect US civilians and military forces, American media reported.
The Huffington Post reported: “A handful of predators armed with Hellfire missiles are being used for the mission, the senior defence official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to discuss the new flights on the record.”
The official, according to the Huffington Post, stressed that the armed drones are to protect US interests and that President Barack Obama still has not authorised airstrikes against ISIS.
Until Friday at noon, American officials have been saying that the American drones flying over Baghdad were not armed.
According to CNN high level discussions about sending more warships to the region are taking place between the White House and the Pentagon.
American officials in the Pentagon also said on Thursday that four teams of Army Special Forces had arrived in Baghdad, bringing the number of American troops there to 90.
Previously, Obama promised to send up to 300 staff to Baghdad. The Americans will advise and assist Iraqi counterterrorism forces.
Pentagon spokesperson Colonel Steve Warren said that the Americans in Baghdad are now 500. Some of them are taking part in evaluating the security situation of the Iraqi forces.
In another context, officials in the Iraqi police and witnesses told CNN that armed groups brought down an Iraqi army helicopter near to Salahaddin University. The Iraqi defence ministry denied the news.