Manned and Unmanned US Aircraft Launch Over Baghdad

Armed drones fly 30 to 35 times a day to provide protection, feed information back to the United States.
15:54 | 06/27/14

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Transcript for Manned and Unmanned US Aircraft Launch Over Baghdad
The Iraqi Army taking the fight back to ices. Heading out of Baghdad to cities in northern Iraq and now with support from above. Manned and unmanned US drones now launched over the capital. I'm Michelle Franzen and New York the US further asserting itself in Iraq today with military advisors on the ground. And those drones in the sky joining us with what it all means and what's coming next from Baghdad payments McDonald and at the Pentagon. -- Louis Martinez. Came issue have been in Baghdad a few days now have you noticed an increased American presence at all or heard. Any of those drones about. No real visible signs of the US presence he obviously. Baghdad is kept under tight security tool time is particularly if you venturing anywhere any DIC is this -- nationals. You would have -- the cold agreeing design we do know that -- -- -- at least the first night he of the 300 US military advisors being deployed. To assist the Iraqi Security Forces have arrived in Baghdad this week. Now we -- being told that their first -- Greeley was to assess the capabilities. The Iraqi Security Forces that doesn't necessarily mean that they would be venturing. Particularly far. We have had that confirmation -- today. That there -- US armed drones. Flying out ahead thirty to 35 surveillance flights in both manned and unmanned. Bancroft. Each day. In order to provide protection -- -- clearly today. Feed information back to them but I think you'll be some time before we see any. Real indication of the work that they doing particularly given that defines itself again stocks this is not really happening. Attack allegedly. Here in the capital on the edges of the capital perhaps the far outskirts perhaps. And ultimately the -- we iasis he's in the father regions particularly the north and the west of this country. And -- we what are the rules of engagement with these drones who asked to sign off before they might open fire. Well as heinous pointed out there -- 3035. Manned and unmanned surveillance flights taking place over Iraq in every single day right now. These armed -- was found to be very limited in number and they are right now flag flying over Baghdad primarily. To provide Force Protection for those assessment teams. Now -- assessment teams are working out of the US embassy in Baghdad. But as they move out in coming days and weeks to gather further assessments of the Iraqi Security Forces yum that city. -- you can be sure that those Jones will be also overhead. Now they need president has not made a decision about airstrikes so even though these are an armed. Drones that are flying over Baghdad that doesn't mean that they are going to be conducting airstrikes. If they hit a target of opportunity presents itself. But I think you're going to be seeing here is that these aircraft armed. To provide what's -- -- military already stresses is that every military personnel is entitled to the right of self defense. And I think that's as far as the limits are in terms of rules of engagement for these aircraft right now. And payments of course drones are obviously a touchy subject and are part of the world here Baghdad and in other parts of Iraq. It can be quite -- can they dropped bombs and bigger cities that -- -- controls and avoid killing innocent civilians or is that a big question. Well clearly that would be huge challenge but I think it's worth remembering. -- a lot of the focus has been whether the United States would conduct airstrikes. In in an -- to assist the Iraqi Security Forces and hold up the position of the Iraqi Government. That said effectively that if America -- helpful or isn't sure whether it will help. The Los other friends and -- have that confirmation. In the last few days that Syrian five digits it struck in the west of the country some discussion about whether the strike occurred. On the Syrian side of the border -- the Iraqi side of the board of it given that this fight against -- is. Crosses both Iraq and Syria it is effectively in material -- controls very -- -- of the territory. Between these two countries. As well as that Iran is providing -- drone flights. -- Iraq we know that that's feeding intelligence in. -- the -- things that Iraq has said that it wants that it needed. From the United States Nouri Al-Maliki is well said yesterday -- to -- that they were -- who have signed an agreement. With the United States so foolish to have signed it in the expectation that would they would get. -- -- -- And instead they're now doing or at least trying to do deals with Russia and -- routes that would see the delivery. Jets. Very probably that would enable them to take on. -- this week the aerial attacks that they say they need so it at this point in time it I think he's becoming less relevant whether or not the United States. Will in fact carry out airstrikes yet but certainly it's an uncomfortable position. For the US government given that it is. It says on the side. All of the Iraqi nation Iraqi people and therefore the Iraqi Government. That it's effectively fighting against diocese on the same side right now. As both Iran and Syria as well. And payments that stay without a little but the US is still pushing for this new government what do they hope will happen in those. July 1 votes. Well the election Missouri taken reflect extreme care taking government annoyed at the moment that's -- I'm not like he's still -- prime minister. But he's -- -- is -- I know he's posse. Is his bloc within the parliament has the largest number so effectively has some degree of mad that you could argue. To form the next government the question is whether or not he has the support. Within the parliament there's an alliance as she of the law. All of -- -- -- in the parliament and it's not clear that they'll necessarily give this support Nouri Al-Maliki. The feeling is both domestically here in Iraq. But also clearly in Washington that Nouri Al-Maliki has been true sectarian he's ignored -- At the Sunni population and that's what's made it so easy for -- -- to roll in three lots towns and cities. Across the north and the west of this country. And that perhaps if Iraq have a -- that was able to. -- the sectarian divide appeal not just this year majority but also to the city community. As well as -- the cubs then that would go a long way to solving the -- crisis that set. I bring this country to its knees it's difficult to find a candidate like that because this year alliance which effectively controls the numbers in the parliament. Will want to -- candidate. What they need to find is -- -- candidate that I like that will be acceptable to the currency control the Kurdish region in the normal. As well as the Sunni population in order to bring over to the side of the government the Sunni tribes in particular in the north in the west of the country. That's a difficult challenge they need to do that on Tuesday which is the first of July. -- John Kerry has said they must meet that deadline and as well as that grand Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani who speak. Effectively than most senior Shiite cleric in this country. Said today Friday Prez that that date should be missed that deadline should be met. That they should be ready to -- a -- government with a prime minister president and to speak out next Tuesday. And Louis I want to ask you what the of view is -- DC is the White House pinning too much hope on this Iraqi Government. Days this is the argument that they are making is that an ambulance saying that this is -- -- -- decision that the Iraqis have to decide for themselves what kind of government they want. On this was actually the indicator that President Obama gave as -- why he did not want to. Abuse and forced its position in the conducting airstrikes inside Iraq he didn't want to be seen as favoring one side of the political blocs in that country over another. Output by taking on -- Facility in the years argument on by the United States has been and that the Iraqis must come together that they must have an inclusive government. And that they have to abide by the democratic ideals and principles. The United States is left behind since since it pushed and pushed a couple years ago. But that is in the enduring message from the United States the last couple weeks and that's -- Carey was there. It in person last week two this week to make sure that that message got through very carefully. And -- -- Maliki of course there is some -- messaging from Maliki a couple of days read the that the day after he met with. Kerry when he -- pilot. But he was not -- former salvation governing -- and that's not what I was talking about. And so that's that's where things are right now. And payments what is the state of the Iraqi Army today and give us an idea of the advisors that have been sent over there. Who are these advisors do we know. -- in -- the first part of your question the Iraqi Army is effectively funded trained supplied. By the US government's -- -- -- -- notice a huge amount of money billions of US dollars in -- to -- Plowed -- -- is even when you go out we spent the last few days in fact -- the Iraqi. Army here in Baghdad and it's the south of the capital. That it in -- you can see. What's left over from that a lot of the equipment. Is American humvees -- American. The helmets the site of the helmets that they where American. The way they walk home patrol is very similar to the way the American forces -- things so you can you can see that very much in evidence. I think the issue for the US ongoing -- certainly this is that's -- -- advises that if Syria. Is to see what more help making gave I think they have already -- a lot of questions raised about the seriousness of this situation. And the US response to it. If thousands of US troops have been here for many many years. And billions of US dollars have been spent on training this Iraqi Army. If it can't -- Against the threats if pat potentially 101000 -- this -- is what difference will 300 US military advisors might. But I think worth noting is the fact that some of these advises we understand that he -- have had experience working with the Iraqi. Security forces in the -- That -- some units some battalions in the Iraqi Security Forces. Who -- familiar with the that greatly previously and I hope will be able to be used. In -- situation detective spot to watch this there is a question though about how thinly those resources this test right now within the Iraqi. -- because of course that haven't just been taking on buses the last few weeks they've been doing it for many mountains -- -- Most of these yet but certainly the US advises that -- he will be needing to make those assessments quite quickly. And -- worst case scenario for the Iraqi Government ice -- fighters on the streets of Baghdad what based on what you've heard does the White House. -- -- Well obviously that's -- worst case scenario for the United States for Iraq obviously. And four era Iraq's neighbors who import meddling in this case in that case -- Syria and Iraq. We've heard how Iran has moved some forces some of the forces along to their western border. Potentially. In case the situation go south there they could move -- that's that's totally a worst case scenario. No one wants to see. And so via port initially two weeks ago was the United States try to stop the momentum of those. Crisis forces -- moves southward. That was what the air strikes debate was all about. We've moved out away from that and now we're in this assessment phase where the United States is trying to gather more information about what that might actually be able provide militarily. To the Iraqi Security Forces. In the coming weeks but that that thing is that that assessment is not due for another two weeks or so. So you might be asking yourself well if it's -- gonna take that long. Aren't events on the ground -- -- overtake that timetable. And that's possible. But that's why you still have a visible military presence. In the Persian gulf you have those drones that are flying out of Kuwait. -- of the aircraft carrier with its fighters that could potentially. Intercede if -- president makes -- decision for airstrikes. And there -- other there are other things that are possible. It's such as continue training enhance training the makes and that might be determined. By this assessment. -- going on right now. But as far as the situation on the ground right now that the focus is on those assessment teams right now there is about 280 of them on the ground. And they've named a major general a two star army general. To take over command of that force because it's gonna require a higher level of coordination with the Iraqi Government that's why he was put -- such. -- today is the start of Ramadan the holiest month for all Muslims during which -- fast from dawn until DOS do you think that this could impact. And reduce some of the fighting. They should probably clarify today's in this how to run it on it will be at some point over the weekend. The start of Ramadan is a -- a question that we don't know antioxidants help it's actually declared and that's based on that the movement in the positioning. The -- additionally an Iraqi it's particularly confusing because often the Sunni initiate communities -- -- -- -- of Ramadan. On different days but we are expecting -- and to begin over the weekend. At some point. But certainly there has been indications from alliances that they would be willing to step up day campaign during holy month of Ramadan. I think potentially win -- complications will arise particularly here in Baghdad. Is that there is a -- community. There is divisions between the Sunni and Shiite communities here. During Ramadan we could see those exacerbated. Clearly today act we -- a couple of mosques to witness Friday prayers. It was a sense that at least at one of them was much -- -- -- -- -- might normally be. Potentially because of -- about the threat of bombing. We -- Baghdad particularly as we've seen the last -- decade there has been. Horrific sectarian violence. And that is buying pot in the but the conflict that's taking place in Iraq right now because of the fact that not only iasis is. -- has not been acting entirely on its online. -- they have been Sunni militias that have insisted it had supported it provided it passage through the north and west of -- of this country. And enabled it to do its work. And the -- -- these al-Qaeda in in Baghdad the city's. Predominantly -- -- we've seen she is being rally being cold. To pick up bombs to be ready to five so we've seen saga is taking to the street -- -- Giambi as well. And that is left Sunnis in the capital feeling very isolated. As well as that there's reports of city sleeper cells ready and waiting for ices and Sunni militias to -- and so that they can join them. So there is a degree of tension around. What people's motivations we have people's motivations lie and it may be to -- -- -- we see some of those things. Lara. ABC's -- McDonald in Baghdad thank you for clarifying that on the Robert -- and ABC's Louis Martinez at the Pentagon thanks for joining us. This has been an ABC news digital special report keep up with the story in real time by downloading the ABC news -- starring. This story for exclusive updates on the go. For now I'm Michelle Franzen in New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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