US to send 560 more troops to
Iraq to retake ISIS stronghold July 11 2016
More US troops are
on the way to Iraq to aid the country’s armed forces in the upcoming offensive
against the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul, US Defense Secretary Ash Carter
announced during a surprise visit to the country.
The new troops will be deployed to the airbase in Qayara, liberated by Iraqi
troops on Saturday. The base is 60 kilometers (37 miles) south of Mosul, which
has been held by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) since 2014.
With these new reinforcements, the US will have about 4,650 troops in Iraq, two
years after returning to the country to fight ISIS. If US commanders require
more troops, Carter said he would “ask the president for them.”
Carter praised the
seizure of Qayara as a “key strategic victory,” telling reporters that it would
be used to complete the envelopment of Mosul from the south.
“These additional US forces will bring unique capabilities to the campaign and
provide critical enabler support to Iraqi forces at a key moment in the fight,”
the Pentagon chief told American troops assembled at the airport in Baghdad,
according to AP.
he new troop
contingent will include engineers, logistics personnel and other forces intended
to help the Iraqi army with planning and preparation for the campaign to
liberate Mosul. Carter also promised to place US advisers with Iraqi brigades
and battalions as they advance on the ISIS stronghold.
American advisers are already working with Iraqis on a brigade level, but have
not yet accompanied them on operations on the battalion level, US officials who
wished to remain anonymous told AP.
A similar base established last year in Makhmur, 30 kilometers (18 miles) east
of Qayara, supported Iraqi advances with artillery fire. One US Marine, Staff
Sergeant Louis Cardin, was killed at that outpost in March, as a result of an IS
Carter is making
an unannounced visit to Iraq in the wake of the Iraqi forces’ latest successes
against ISIS, with government forces taking control of major cities like
Fallujah and Ramadi and a number of smaller settlements in recent months.
The Pentagon chief will be in Iraq only for a day, meeting with the Iraqi Prime
Minister Haider al-Abadi and Defense Minister Khalid al-Obeidi, as well as the
US Liutenant-General Sean MacFarland, in charge of Operation Inherent Resolve.
The Iraqi liberation of Qayara points to a renewed push on Mosul, after the
government in Baghdad decided to delay the planned offensive in order to focus
on Fallujah, a major city in Anbar province.
Residents of Mosul should “prepare for liberation,” Abadi said.
Fallujah was successfully captured at the end of June, with US and Iraqi
aircraft destroying a large column of IS vehicles attempting to escape.
The IS convoy was such a tempting target that the US coalition sent all of its
air assets there on June 28, leaving the Pentagon-backed "New Syrian Army”
rebels without air cover and support in the middle of a push on the IS
stronghold of Bukamal, the Washington Post reported last Wednesday. As a result,
the offensive was a failure, and the group was forced back to its base on the
Though the US troops in Iraq have been billed as strictly advisory personnel,
never intended to see combat, three American soldiers have been killed in battle
with ISIS so far. In addition to Sergeant Cardin, a Navy SEAL, Petty Officer 1st
Class Charles Keating, was killed in May near Irbil, while Master Sergeant
Joshua Wheeler of the US Army was killed in a raid in Hawijah, west of Kirkuk,
in October 2015. (Source: