BAGHDAD — The U.S. military’s plan to deploy thousands of troops to the desert to protect a major American city from a massive water spill could cost $1.6 billion, the Pentagon said Thursday, adding that a “significant” portion of the money would be covered by the government’s Emergency Response Fund.
The Pentagon said it expects to begin deploying about 1,000 troops in September and deploy another 300 troops later this year.
It said the new troops will be able to be deployed more quickly than the 1,200 troops that the Pentagon originally expected to deploy in August and September.
The Army has also said it will deploy additional soldiers to protect the American-built facility on the outskirts of Baghdad, known as Camp Lemonnier, to protect against the risk of another major water spill.
The military said the cost estimate will be announced in coming weeks.
The Defense Department announced plans earlier this month to build a second water-management plant at Camp Lemonnires to help contain the spill.
In July, the Army halted work on the $200 million plant and halted all work to start construction of a second facility, which is expected to be completed in late September.
In September, the U.N. Security Council imposed sanctions against Iraq over the spill, calling on it to stop any further operations and allow for international monitors to enter the site.
The U and the Iraqis have said they will not stop working to contain the water crisis, which has killed at least 2,700 people and forced more than 1.5 million from their homes.
The United States, Iraq and a coalition of international and Iraqi officials have been trying to negotiate a settlement to the crisis, including the transfer of a U.K.-made military helicopter to Baghdad.
The deal fell apart last week, with the United Kingdom refusing to provide security and logistical support for the helicopter, and the Us insisting on the helicopter.