The United States will send about 600 more American to Iraq to prepare local forces for the upcoming battle to retake Mosul from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant fighters.
US Ashton Carter announced on Wednesday the US will advise Iraqi and provide logistics support and intelligence for the operation to recapture the country’s second-largest city from ISIL – also known as ISIS.
“American President Barack Obama was consulted on a request from the Iraqi government for a final increase in the number of trainers and advisers under the umbrella of the international coalition in Iraq,” Iraq’s Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi said in a statement.
US to send another 560 to Iraq
Last week, Abadi met Obama and Vice President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, though it was not clear whether the deal was sealed there.
‘No boots on the ground’
US General Joseph Votel, who oversees US forces in the Middle East, told Reuters in July the US expected to seek additional in Iraq
There are at least 4,400 US in Iraq as part of a US-led coalition providing extensive air support, training and advice to the Iraqi , which collapsed in 2014 in the face of ISIL’s advance towards capital Baghdad.
Iraqi forces, including Kurdish peshmerga fighters and mostly Iranian-backed Shia militias, have retaken about half of that territory over the past two years.
But Mosul, the largest city under ISIL’s control, is likely to be the biggest battle yet.
US and Iraqi commanders have said the push to retake the city could begin by the second half of October.
Current US levels in Iraq are still a fraction of the 170,000 deployed at the height of the nine-year occupation that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003, sparking an al-Qaeda-backed insurgency and throwing the country into a sectarian civil war.
Following the withdrawal of from Iraq, Obama insisted there would be no American “boots on the ground”.