US to send 560 more troops to aid Iraq’s anti-IS fight
The announcement, which will bring the total authorised number of American military personnel in Iraq to more than 4,600, came two days after Baghdad said it had recaptured a base south of Mosul that is seen as an important step toward the eventual battle for the city.
Iraq’s second city Mosul has been under Islamic State group control since June 2014, when the jihadists overran large parts of Iraq, carrying out atrocities including execution-style killings, mass kidnappings and rape.
IS also holds territory in neighbouring Syria, but has lost significant ground in both countries, and Carter wanted to highlight successes, even as the jihadists have struck back with devastating attacks in Iraq and abroad.
“I am pleased to report today that... we agreed for the United States to bolster Iraqi efforts to isolate and pressure Mosul by deploying 560 additional troops,” Carter said at the Baghdad airport following meetings with the Iraqi premier and defence minister.
“With these additional US forces we are describing today, we will bring unique capabilities to the campaign... at a key moment,” Carter said.
President Barack Obama made ending the US’s nearly nine-year war in Iraq a centrepiece of his presidency, but Washington has been drawn ever deeper back into the country by the war against IS.