Pentagon: Iraq operations cost $560 million so far

(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. military operations in Iraq, including airstrikes and surveillance flights, have cost about $560 million since mid-June, the Pentagon said Friday.

Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said the average daily cost has been $7.5 million. He said it began at a much lower rate in June and has escalated as the airstrikes in northern Iraq intensified this month.

As of Thursday the military said it had conducted 110 airstrikes against Islamic State militants who have stormed across Iraq, taking control of a large swath of the west and north.

The Pentagon also has security forces in Baghdad and Irbil to protect American personnel and facilities, and teams of U.S. troops are in those two cities to coordinate with Iraqi and Kurdish forces and to assess the strengths and tactics of Islamic State forces.

Kirby said the costs are being paid from the Pentagon’s 2014 overseas contingency fund. Top Pentagon officials have said they have adequate funds for the operation through September but that requests to Congress for the next budget year might have to be reconsidered if the Iraq operations intensify further.

The White House also is considering whether to extend the military campaign to include Islamic State targets inside Syria, but President Barack Obama said Thursday there was no immediate strategy to do that and played down expectations that it would happen immediately.

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