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Baghdad approves deployment of US troops for Mosul offensive

On Thursday, Iraqi forces took back the town of Shirqat from IS [Getty]

Date of publication: 23 September, 2016

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The US military has requested that around 500 fresh troops be deployed to Iraq ahead of the long-awaited offensive to retake the city of Mosul from the Islamic State group.
The United States military has requested that around 500 fresh troops be deployed to Iraq ahead of the long-awaited offensive to retake the city of Mosul from the Islamic State group [IS], adding the growing US presence in the country.

The new deployment of combat troops, which has already been approved by Baghdad, would mainly be sent a US military base that has been established south of Mosul near the recently recaptured town of Qayyarah, an Iraqi military official told The New Arab.

"The trailers to house the troops, which will arrive next month, are being set up by foreign contractors at the bases in Qayyarah and Habbaniya," the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said on Friday.

"Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has given his approval for the deployment as he thinks it will to give more momentum to the fighting and speed up the offensive to recapture IS-held cities,"

"As we have been informed, all the new troops will serve combat roles."

The US maintains that troops sent to Iraq are there to serve only in advisory roles and stay behind the front line. The new forces would increase the number of US personnel officially in Iraq up to around 5,000.

     
     

Earlier this month, around 400 new personnel were sent to Iraq to prepare for the Mosul offensive.

On Thursday, Iraqi forces backed by US-led coalition warplanes took back the town of Shirqat from IS militants after a brief two-day offensive.

The town lies on the west bank of the Tigris River in Salahuddin province, 260 kilometres northwest of Baghdad and around 80 kilometres south of Mosul.

Top US military officers have hinted that the final push for Mosul could begin next month, but there are still significant military, political and humanitarian obstacles between the launch of the operation and entering and retaking the city.

In July, powerful Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called on his supporters to target US troops deployed in Iraq after the US announced that the Pentagon would deploy more troops there.

Sadr, who has the support of tens of thousands of Iraqis, had fought US troops during their 2003 invasion of Iraq with the Mahdi Army.

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